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What Wallabies great expects from Mark Nawaqanitawase at fullback

By Finn Morton
Mark Nawaqanitawase of the Waratahs looks on during the round 15 Super Rugby Pacific match between NSW Waratahs and Moana Pasifika at Allianz Stadium on June 03, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Wallabies legend Tim Horan is excited to see how Mark Nawaqanitawase fares at fullback for the Waratahs on Saturday evening after Max Jorgensen was ruled out of the clash against the visiting Blues with a hip injury.

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Nawaqanitawase, who will move to the Sydney Roosters for next year’s NRL season, rose to superstar status with the Wallabies by starring on the right wing.

The 23-year-old was a shining line for the Wallabies during the Rugby World Cup in France, and Nawaqanitawase has continued to impress in Sky Blue this season.

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Last 5 Meetings

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Wins
5
Average Points scored
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35
First try wins
60%
Home team wins
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But with the Waratahs’ injury toll rising to a staggering list of nine players, the Sydney-based club has been forced into some key changes to their starting XV and reserves.

Not only is Jorgensen out, but with both David Porecki and Mahe Vailanu being deemed unavailable, hooker Jay Fonokalafi received the callup from coach Darren Coleman while working on a building site during the week.

But injuries aside, two-time Rugby World Cup-winning Wallaby Tim Horan is excited to see how “Marky Mark” goes out the back in this weekend’s Super Rugby Pacific clash.

“I think that’s a good option,” Horan said on Stan Sports’ The Call Up.

“We’ve tried so many different fullbacks for the Wallabies over the years – you look at Tom Banks, Tom Wright, (Andrew) Kellaway of course, last year Ben Donaldson.

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“Mark Nawaqanitawase, I think it’s good. It’s probably going to open up his eyes to the game a bit more… when you’re on the wing for such a long time, sometimes you’ve got to go looking for work where if you’re at 15 the ball is going to find you a lot more.

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“He’ll get more opportunities at the back.”

The Waratahs face a tough challenge this weekend with the Blues also vying to return to winning ways after falling to the Hurricanes in Wellington in Round Three.

But coach Vern Cotter has welcomed back the cavalry into the starting side with All Blacks Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Hoskins Sotutu and Caleb Clarke among those named to return.

“For the Blues, however, they’ll be hurting after the loss against the Hurricanes,” former All Black Mils Muliaina said on the same show.

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“Ofa Tu’ungafasi comes back in so plenty of experience. (Mark) Tele’a, he was extraordinary.

“The big thing for me last week was when they did lose those backs, they had to play a different sort of style. It was almost like helter-skelter and it almost sort of came off to a certain degree.

“I love the fact that they’ve got now Akira Ioane and also Hoskins Sotutu who came off the bench last week, he ended up playing in the midfield… they’ll bring plenty of physicality which they are going to need.

“Caleb Clarke comes into it and obviously Bryce Heem in the midfield. He’ll bring stability in terms of the ball carry but defensively as well, especially when you look at the likes of (Tane) Edmed on the other side who can tear backlines to pieces.”

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Comments

1 Comment
c
cs 94 days ago

Marky hasn’t worked at 15 in the past, and therefore unlikely to work now.

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