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Wallabies defectors granted early release but there's a catch

By Ian Cameron
Carter Gordon of Australia applauds the fans at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Wales and Australia at Parc Olympique on September 24, 2023 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Rugby Australia has released their Wallaby defectors from their contracts early to join the NRL – it is being reported.


Mark Nawaqanitawase and Carter Gordon have been granted early releases, allowing them to join their respective NRL clubs this season. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Rugby Australia’s governing board executed deeds of release for the pair on Monday.

Nawaqanitawase signed a two-year deal to join the Roosters in 2025 while Gordon has signed a two-year contract to join the Titans next season.

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Nawaqanitawase’s release reportedly will not become official until after his Olympic campaign on July 27, the date of the men’s rugby sevens final in Paris.

The Roosters on Monday reportedly put forward their application to the NRL for Nawaqanitawase to join and be registered with the club early. The NRL is reportedly set to give the club the green light for him to join his new teammates and begin learning the ropes in the 13-man code.

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Meanwhile, flyhalf Gordon is free to join the Titans with immediate effect. His new contract is reportedly worth around $600,000. Gold Coast coaching staff reportedly will not rush his development. However, they are keen to get him training with the squad to fast-track his progress.

Wallabies head coach Joe Schmidt admits he was shocked by the defection of Gordon.

“I like Carter and I’d had a few discussions with him. It wasn’t probably as much of a shock to me as it may have been externally,” Schmidt told Michael Atkinson on Stan Sport.


“But at the same time, I’m really excited about what Ben Donaldson has demonstrated at the Force, what Tom Lynagh has delivered and Noah Lolesio, he’s done a great job with the Brumbies, leading them around the field, his goal-kicking is very much the most accurate.

Nawaqanitawase and Gordon both previously represented the Wallabies and featured at the recent World Cup in 2023. Nawaqanitawase was also a key member of the Australian side. The push for Nawaqanitawase to be granted an early release came after he was left out of the Wallabies’ squad for this month’s Test matches.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson confirmed the club was hopeful their new recruit would be free to join the squad this year.

“I haven’t got an NRL focus for him. I’ve got a transition into rugby league focus and getting him training, if possible, and playing some reserve grade would be ideal,” he said.


“And then it’s up to him with how he adapts. The focus is definitely not NRL. There’s not a view on NRL any time soon.

“We’ve got a spot available to do that, but we want to get his feet on the ground to get his understanding (of rugby league).”



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Tim 11 days ago

What's the catch? I read the article twice assuming I'd missed something. Must be a slow rugby news day in Oz.

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