Joe Schmidt’s issues message to Wallabies playmaker after NRL negotiations revealed

David Skippers
Carter Gordon and Joe Schmidt.jpg

Wallabies and Rebels fly-half Carter Gordon and Australia's new head coach, Joe Schmidt.

Australia’s new head coach, Joe Schmidt, has reassured Melbourne Rebels playmaker Carter Gordon that he is still in contention to play for the Wallabies after news broke that he is eyeing a move to the NRL.

However, Schmidt also suggested that if the 23-year-old opted to make the switch to the 13-man code, his departure would not be a big setback for the Wallabies.

Held talks with a NRL club

On Tuesday, the Sydney Morning Herald broke the news that Gordon‘s management had held talks with representatives of the Gold Coast Titans, although the NRL outfit had baulked at AUS$700,000 a year asking price due to his lack of rugby league experience.

Gordon is in the final year of his current contract with the Rebels and Rugby Australia but there is plenty of uncertainty over the future of the Melbourne-based club’s future in Super Rugby Pacific beyond the 2024 tournament after they entered voluntary administration in January.

“I had a chat with Carter much earlier in the season, and one of the things is that Carter is competing for a Wallabies spot – just like a number of the other 10s,” said Schmidt on Wednesday.

“There are a number of 10s – Tom Lynagh did really well last week, Ben Donaldson’s been going well and Noah Lolesio is the most consistent of the kickers, certainly at goal.

“I’d love Carter to stay and to be in the mix for the Wallabies, but if he doesn’t then I’m excited about working with whoever we do select in that position.”

Wallabies star in talks with NRL club over cross-code switch – report

The fly-half made his debut for Australia against South Africa in Pretoria during last year’s Rugby Championship. He has gone on to make eight Test appearances but was dropped by former Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones during their disastrous 2023 Rugby World Cup campaign in France.

Gordon’s interest in rugby league comes after it was confirmed at the end of 2023 that Waratahs and Wallabies flyer Mark Nawaqanitawase will join the Sydney Roosters on a two-year contract starting in 2025, while Reds and Wallabies utility back Jordan Petaia held talks with St. George Illawarra Dragons coach Shane Flanagan last month.

‘As frustrated as anyone’

Schmidt admitted that the uncertainty over the Rebels’ future had left him “as frustrated as anyone”, especially given the increased competitiveness of the Australian clubs during this year’s Super Rugby campaign.

“I can only control what I can control, and that is trying to observe and build relationships with some of those players,” he said.

“Depending on what happens, I just want them to stay in Australia, be available, and be keen to put the gold jersey on.”

The 58-year-old’s first Test as Wallabies head coach is against Wales in Sydney on July 6.

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