Wallabies: Mark Nawaqanitawase is an unearthed diamond that must kick on from promising start to Test career

Dylan Coetzee
Wallabies star Mark Nawaqanitawase with ball in hand against Wales.

The Wallabies have unearthed a superstar winger in Mark Nawaqanitawase, who stormed onto the Test scene in the Autumn Nations Series.

Nawaqanitawase enjoyed a solid season with the Waratahs in Super Rugby Pacific before spending time with the Australia sevens side and ultimately shining for the Wallabies.

The tall speedster stands 192cm, is fantastic in the air and has a serious finisher’s instinct, an attribute that cannot always be coached.

Blockbuster performance

The 22-year-old scored two tries, made over 100 metres in just nine carries and broke eight tackles in a sensational comeback that saw the Wallabies claim a 39-34 win in Cardiff.

Upon his call-up to the Wallabies squad, head coach Dave Rennie expressed his excitement about the star. Still, he surely did not expect Nawaqanitawase to be one of his best performers come the end of their northern hemisphere tour and one that may have saved his spot in the Australian hot seat.

“It’s exciting for him, he’s really grown in the last 12 months,” Rennie said when Nawaqanitawase was called up.

“We brought him into camp to give ourselves a bit of cover when he came back from Sevens so it’s nice to officially name him in our squad.”

Nawaqanitawase is taking things in his stride and is “grateful” to be in and amongst the Wallabies squad.

“I guess that’s life,” Nawaqanitawase said after the Wales Test where he won man-of-the-match.

“Things go up and down sometimes, but I’m grateful for where I am at the moment and I couldn’t score those tries without the boys.”

Continue growing

Wallabies great Tim Horan has been impressed with Nawaqanitawase’s rise but wants the Waratah to kick on and continue growing into the World Cup next year.

“The big thing now for Mark is that he feels he belongs in a gold jersey,” Horan told Stan Sport.

“That usually takes probably five or 10 Test matches, he’s done it in two or three. The big challenge for Mark now is to go back to the Waratahs after this tour, take what he’s learned from this tour and actually step up again because that second year syndrome is very difficult in a gold jersey.

“Players start to look at videos, start to analyse what your weaknesses are, what your strengths are.

“He’ll be marked harder next year, but it’s a good opportunity for him to grow.”

READ MORE: Autumn Nations Series: Five takeaways from Wales v Australia as questions continue to be asked of Wayne Pivac