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Will Jordan opens up on ‘jitters’ before All Blacks return

By Finn Morton
Will Jordan of New Zealand makes a break during The Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and South Africa Springboks at Mt Smart Stadium on July 15, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

After almost 300 days away from international rugby, winger Will Jordan was back in black last weekend as New Zealand ran away with a big win over rivals South Africa in Auckland.

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Jordan made his highly anticipated return to the Test arena on the right wing for the All Blacks, and was nothing short of sensational during his masterful performance.

The No. 14 impressed with a couple of game-breaking carries early on – but the best of Jordan’s brilliance was yet to come.

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Just over four minutes into the clash at Mt Smart Stadium, the rugby magician created something special out of nothing.

Jordan ran around two Springboks defenders with ease, including World Cup-winning centre Damian de Allende, before setting up veteran Aaron Smith for the All Blacks’ opening try of the night.

As Smith, Jordan and the All Blacks began to celebrate the score, so did New Zealand. With just two months to go until the World Cup, Jordan was back in black.

“There was a few nerves to be honest,” Jordan told reporters after the 35-20 win. “Been away for a while, there’s always those natural little jitters.

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“It was good to get a few touches early on to sort of settle in a little bit.

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“A good night for footy so I thought we exploited space really well whether, again, through the kick or through the run.

“Just ultimately loved being back out there, love the competition so definitely missed it while I was away.”

Jordan missed last year’s end-of-season tour with an inner-ear issue, but was still named in World Rugby’s Dream Team for the second year in a row.

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That’s how good the 25-year-old is.

But Jordan wasn’t out of the woods just yet. Migraine and vertigo symptoms continue to sideline the electric outside back during the majority of Super Rugby Pacific.

Whether it was on a Thursday or a Friday, there was always an extra element of interest as the champion Crusaders named their team to play each week.

Fans wondered when and if Jordan would return for the Christchurch-based franchise, and eventually, so did the nation. With the Test season rapidly approaching, New Zealanders wanted Jordan back.

Jordan’s return seemed inevitable, and eventually, that proved true.

The All Black returned for the Crusaders against the Western Force in round 11, and ended up winning another title with the franchise.

But again, Jordan wasn’t out of the woods just yet.

Jordan didn’t travel to Argentina with his All Blacks teammates ahead of their Rugby Championship opener against Los Pumas in Mendoza.

After missing the Test, and with the All Blacks returning to Aotearoa, Jordan was given a “licence” to attack against the Boks by coach Ian Foster.

“I had a bit of a mindset to get some touches early on,” Jordan added. “A bit of it was just the way the game went.

“Fossie has been keen for me to try getting to the middle of the park as much as possible, even from the wing. I was able to do that a couple of times.

“Just eager to try and make an impact after so long away. If you’re able to spot a couple of gaps and go through, it was a bit of a confidence boost early on.

“I think it was good to have last week off. Obviously, with us making the final, it was a bit of a tight turnaround.

“Been feeling really good the last couple of weeks which is great, it really helps me go out on the park and do my thing.

“Appreciative of Foz and the medical team being really understanding of that and I think I’m in a good place at the moment so happy with how things are going.”

After starting their season with two big wins, the All Blacks can secure The Rugby Championship title with another positive result against the Wallabies in Melbourne later this month.

The All Blacks will also face Eddie Jones’ men in Dunedin before travelling to Europe for their final World Cup warmup Test against the Springboks in London.

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