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‘I’m actually a big fan’: Why Jordan Petaia should change positions

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

As a teenager, Jordan Petaia announced himself to the rugby world with some impressive performances in Wallaby gold at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

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After making his Wallabies debut against Uruguay in pool play, coach Michael Cheika selected the rising star at outside centre for the quarter-final clash with rivals England.

With just two-Tests to his name, Petaia lined up in the centre alongside Wallabies vice-captain Samu Kerevi.

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The pair came up against the formidable midfield duo of Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade in Oita, and England emerged victorious 40-16.

In the four years since, for both club and country, Petaia has often been used as either a winger or a fullback.

But the 23-year-old is still yet to cement his place in the Wallabies’ starting XV. Four years on, there are lot of questions that still remain unanswered about Petaia – including, potentially, what is his best position?

With this year’s tournament in France less than four months away, former Test centre Morgan Turinui believes Petaia could be better utilised as an “old-school distributor” in the midfield.

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“There are some smart people in Australian rugby looking to put Petaia in the midfield because we don’t have the old-school distributor, second ball player centre,” Turinui said on Stan Sport’s Between Two Posts.

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“So if you want a couple of running backs in the midfield, there are some people saying, ‘Well, why wouldn’t you look at him as a 12 or 13 and let him go?’”

Looking ahead to this year’s World Cup, Wallabies coach Eddie Jones has a plethora of options to choose from in the midfield.

If fit, Samu Kerevi would seemingly be a certainty for the starting side – and would be expected to line up in the midfield alongside Brumbies No. 13 Len Ikitau.

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Other options potentially include Lalakai Foketi, Izaia Perese, Josh Flook and Reece Hodge.

But another former Wallaby, Stephen Hoiles, has explained why he’s also a “big fan” of playing Petaia in the midfield.

“When you’re picking a World Cup squad, you need two in veery position that can go,” Hoiles said.

“I’m actually a big fan of him potentially shifting there because you’ve got Tom Wright, you’ve got (Andrew) Kellaway at 15, (Jock) Campbell going great.”

The Wallabies start their new era under coach Eddie Jones in July when they take on reigning World Cup champions South Africa at Loftus Versfeld.

Petaia recently had surgery on his hand, and is expected to miss the rest of the Super Rugby Pacific season.

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2 Comments
M
MitchO 397 days ago

Petaia has that lovely size and athleticism. Could play 13 but ikitau is first choice. Left boot plus brains. Petaia wing or 15 but for now bench. Although he or Wright should be our 15 unless or until marky mark takes it off them.

G
Gary 398 days ago

Petaia is way too hot and cold to be selected for the WC, IMO. He has some good games and plays out of his skin then the next week he is awful. Consistency is the litmus test for players that you select for the WC. Petaia drifts in and out of games. He scores tries certainly but most wingers would score the tries also being on the end of good play, He needs to do more work around the park and look for a bit of work IMO. I certainly wouldn't select him at outside centre there are at least 5 centres better than him at this level. He is IMO a winger and then he needs to improve a tad on his consistency

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