Rising Wallabies star Mark Nawaqanitawase is set to switch codes and join rugby league powerhouse Sydney Roosters, with the winger opting Thursday against a new contract with Rugby Australia.
NSW Waratah Nawaqanitawase, 23, played 11 Tests and was a standout performer for Australia in their disastrous World Cup campaign under Eddie Jones in France this year.
Local media widely reported that he will take up a two-year deal with the Roosters from 2025.
It follows Roosters’ outside back Joseph Suaalii making the switch to rugby union and the Waratahs, which will take effect at the end of 2024.
“We are disappointed -– Mark has been a strong player over the last 12 months,” Rugby Australia chief executive Phil Waugh said in a statement.
“However, the outside backs are a position of strength for us, with great depth coming through. We are confident we are well-stocked with talented wingers for the future.”
Nawaqanitawase’s departure is another blow for a Wallabies side without a coach after Jones resigned in October following Australia’s failure to reach the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time.
It led to Hamish McLennan quitting as Rugby Australia chairman after six of the nation’s eight state unions said they had lost trust in his leadership.
Nawaqanitawase’s agent Andrew Fairbairn said the decision had been “emotional” and did not rule out a return to rugby union for his client ahead of the 2027 World Cup in Australia.
“At 23, Mark feels now is the best time to stay in Australia, but have a new experience in the Roosters program for 2025 and 2026,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“We hope the door will be open for Mark to return to the Wallabies fold in the future.”
Nawaqanitawase’s move to the Roosters is yet to be officially confirmed by the club.
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