Australia’s annus horribilis, after their recent woeful Rugby World Cup campaign, could get worse after it was revealed that exciting wing Mark Nawaqanitawase is considering a code switch.
According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Wallabies and Waratahs star is set to hold talks with the Sydney Roosters’ head coach Trent Robinson and chairman Nick Politis next week in a potential revenge mission for Joseph Suaalii leaving their NRL club to defect to rugby union.
Shone for Australia at the Rugby World Cup
Although the Wallabies delivered their worst ever Rugby World Cup performance at the recent global showpiece in France – where they failed to advance to the quarter-finals for the first time in the tournament’s history – Nawaqanitawase caught the eye with some fine showings.
The 23-year-old burst onto the scene at Super Rugby level for the Waratahs in 2020 and made his international debut in a 28-27 defeat to Italy in Florence during the Wallabies’ end-of-year tour of Europe in 2022.
Since then, he has established himself in Australia’s first choice starting line-up. He has already won 11 Test caps and was one of the few shining lights during their 2023 World Cup campaign.
Losing Nawaqanitawase to rugby league would be a huge setback for Australian rugby. If he continues with his current form he would be considered a shoo-in for Wallabies selection in their three-Test series against the British & Irish Lions on their tour of Australia in 2027.
Since making his Wallabies debut, Nawaqanitawase has scored five tries and he has crossed the whitewash on 27 occasions in 45 games for the Waratahs at Super Rugby level.
He is set to come off contract with the Waratahs and Rugby Australia at the end of 2024.
Nawaqanitawase was keen on a long-term deal
In May, Nawaqanitawase told the Sydney Morning Herald he would like to have a long-term deal with Rugby Australia and hinted that there were “other things” he wanted to explore.
“I would have liked more,” he said at the time. “I’d love to stay here as long as I can.
“With certain circumstances, we had to agree on something. The one-year (contract extension) was the best thing at the time.
“Hopefully (I can) win a Super Rugby title with the ‘Tahs and hopefully win a World Cup.
“In a perfect world, I’d like to stay (in rugby) but there’s always a but. There’s obviously other things out there that might interest me.”