More bad news for Australia as star winger’s code switch confirmed

Australia’s annus horribilis just got worse after it was confirmed that star Wallabies and Waratahs winger Mark Nawaqanitawase will leave rugby union to join NRL outfit the Sydney Roosters in 2025.

The 23-year-old informed Rugby Australia (RA) that he will be leaving the 15-a-side code at the end of 2025 after he signed a one-year contract extension with the governing body and his Sydney-based club earlier this year.

Roosters delighted with new acquisition

The Sydney Roosters confirmed the news via their official website with he club’s head of recruitment, Daniel Anderson, saying: “We’re delighted to have secured Mark’s services and look forward to welcoming him to our club in 2025.

“In the meantime, we wish him all the best for a successful 2024 in rugby union.”

In the meantime, Phil Waugh, the CEO of RA, voiced his displeasure with Nawakanitawase’s choice.

He released a statement saying, “We are disappointed. Mark has been a strong player over the last 12 months.” But we have strength at the outside back position, where there is a lot of depth.

“We are certain that we have a good supply of talented wingers for the future.”

During the Wallabies’ final-round European tour in 2022, Nawaqanitawase made his debut for his country in a 28-27 loss to Italy in Florence. He first gained recognition for the Waratahs in Super Rugby in 2020.

He has now earned 11 Test caps and cemented himself as a member of Australia’s first-choice starting lineup.

Impressed during the World Cup

Nawaqanitawase was one of the Wallabies’ standout performers during their recent woeful Rugby World Cup campaign in France where they failed to advance to the global showpiece’s knockout rounds for the first time in the tournament’s history.

In 2023, he played six times for his nation. In the Wallabies’ opening two Rugby World Cup games against Georgia and Fiji, he scored tries.

The entrance of Joseph Suaalii, who will join the Waratahs in 2025, and Vuate Karawalevu, a Fijian rugby league international and teammate of Sydney Roosters who participated in the Waratahs’ most recent trials against New South Wales Pacifica, will counterbalance his departure to rugby league.

It is anticipated that Nawaqanitawase would keep the door open for a return to rugby union in time for Australia to host the Rugby World Cup in 2027.

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