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Why Jordan Petaia’s NRL link is ‘a scary prospect’ for Australian rugby

By Finn Morton
France will go into the upcoming Rugby World Cup after another Test triumph, but the same can’t be said for the Wallabies who are still winless under coach Eddie Jones.

Former Wallabies outside back Cameron Shepherd has explained how losing Jordan Petaia to a rival code is “a scary prospect” for Australian rugby in the wake of recent reports.

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As reported earlier this week by Sydney Morning Herald and 9News reporter Michael Chammas, St George Illawarra coach Shane Flanagan has reached out to Petaia’s management.

The Dragons coach is interested in potentially luring the young Wallaby over to the NRL as the club weighs up the possibility of potentially replacing centre Zac Lomax.

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This news comes less than 50 days after it was revealed by The Daily Telegraph that Petia had been approached by the NFL International Player Pathway, a Queensland NRL side and Japanese rugby clubs.

With Wallabies wing Mark Nawaqanitawase already leaving the code at the end of 2024 to join the Sydney Roosters, and with some uncertainty surrounding Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii’s move to rugby union, it would be a tough blow to see Petaia leave Australian rugby.

“It’s a scary prospect,” Cameron Shepherd said on Stan Sports’ Rugby Heaven.

“You think that there’s also maybe a lot of conversations saying you paid so much money for other players, why aren’t we spending more to retain that local talent?

“You look at Jordan Petaia, two World Cups, he’s 23, he’s played 30-plus caps for Australia, I think I’m pretty close to the mark on that one. He’s a talent, and he’s someone we have to work to retain.”

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It’s been a big couple of days for Australian rugby with reports that the Sydney Roosters were going to try and retain Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii breaking earlier this week.

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Journalist Neil Breen told 2GB radio this week that the Tricolours were “working overtime” to try and convince Suaalii to backflip on his lucrative deal with Rugby Australia and the Waratahs.

But as Rugby Heaven panellist Sera Naiqama explained, it would be “so dishonest” of Suaalii to make that decision to remain in the NRL after agreeing to the deal.

“It would be a huge blow considering that we locked his deal in at a time when Rugby Australia was in a lot of turmoil,” Naiqama said.

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“He cost a lot of money for us to lock him in for what five years? Valued at about a $5 million contract.

“For him to back out would be so dishonest. Don’t commit yourself to something you know you’re not going to see through.

“There’s got to be some sort of loyalty when you’re being called in with huge responsibility and huge money attached to your name.”

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