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Mark Nawaqanitawase departs Rugby Australia for Rugby League

BY Philip Bendon  ·  Thursday Dec 7, 2023

Australian Rugby has been left reeling after the revelation that Waratahs and Wallabies winger Mark Nawaqanitawase has signed a new deal with rugby league.

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The Sydney Morning Herald recently reported that Nawaqanitawase has informed Rugby Australia of his impending move to the NRL in 2025, where he will don the colours of the Roosters.

This unexpected decision comes just before the British & Irish Lions tour in 2025, dealing a significant blow to the Wallabies, who will now be without one of their most promising talents.

Despite the Wallabies’ early exit in the pool stage of the Rugby World Cup in France, the 23-year-old winger had emerged as a standout player during the tournament.

Sources confirm that Nawaqanitawase has inked a two-year deal with the NRL club, joining forces with fellow rising star Joseph Sua’ali’i.

The two players will effectively swap codes, marking a significant moment as rugby league scores a coup by luring a top-tier rugby union talent to its ranks.

Reports indicate that negotiations between Nawaqanitawase and the Roosters had been ongoing for some time, with the 6 ft 4 winger ultimately swayed by the prospect of a fresh experience in the Roosters program for 2025 and 2026.

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His agent, Fairbairn, revealed that Trent Robinson’s track record of success in working with rugby union talent played a pivotal role in Nawaqanitawase’s decision.

While this signing undoubtedly weakens the Wallabies’ playing depth, particularly in the wide areas, Australia boasts a generally high number of talented wingers in its rugby ranks.

Nawaqanitawase’s departure, however, leaves a void as he had secured a starting role in 2023, showcasing his prowess as a dynamic runner with an exceptional ability to break through defensive lines.

Despite the disappointment for Australian rugby fans, there remains a glimmer of hope for a potential return. The door could still be open for Nawaqanitawase to rejoin the Waratahs and the Wallabies in 2027 when Australia is set to host the Rugby World Cup. This would offer a chance for redemption and reconciliation with the fans who will surely be keenly watching the young winger’s career in the NRL.

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Only time will tell if Nawaqanitawase’s foray into rugby league will be a permanent shift or a brief detour in his sporting journey.

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