July 22, 2023

‘Certainly he’s a chance’: Reds gun poised for emphatic comeback

By Nick Wright
July 22, 2023 — 4.07pm
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Queensland Reds ace Jordan Petaia is on the cusp of completing an emphatic injury recovery as he firms for a shot at the Wallabies fullback spot ahead of the World Cup.

Petaia was named in Eddie Jones’ 34-man squad to take on the All Blacks from July 29, where he is poised to battle the likes of Andrew Kellaway for the prized No.15 jersey following Tom Wright’s axing.

Jordan Petaia will be gunning for the No.15 jumper against the All Blacks.Credit: Getty

The 24-year-old was ruled out of his side’s Super Rugby finals ambitions in May when he suffered ligament damage in his wrist, named in Jones’ initial squads which lost to South Africa and Argentina but unable to take the field.

Petaia’s instinctive brand of rugby could prove the perfect mould for the game style Jones is striving to incorporate ahead of the World Cup, with the coach admitting there was still plenty for the playing group to come to terms with after two poor showings to begin his tenure.

Jones was adamant that had they maintained traditional playing structures they would have sacrificed potential glory at the September-October showcase for more immediate results.


However, he said while Petaia would no doubt come into consideration for next Saturday’s clash with New Zealand, his extended lay-off could become a factor in final selections.

“Certainly, he’s a chance to play, he’s trained well, but he’s coming back from a long break from injury. I don’t think he’s played for 10 or 12 weeks,” Jones said.

“That’s a long time and certainly we’ll consider it. I think if you speak to Jordie his preferred position is 15, but he also has the capacity we’ve seen to play Test rugby well at 13 and we’ve also seen him play Test rugby well on the wings.


“Australian rugby has always been its best when we’re organised but we’re instinctive, and that’s the balance we’re trying to get.

Jordan Petaia missed the end of the Reds season with a wrist injury.Credit: Getty

“Australian rugby has gone almost completely organised, if you watch Super Rugby sides they play like that, and we could have gone down that track.

“Our results would have been better, I’ve got no doubt about that because organised rugby is cleaner, it’s simpler, and you don’t have as many decisions. But I don’t believe we can win the World Cup playing that sort of rugby.”

While Jones is yet to cement his game-day squad for the clutch clash against the All Blacks, he hinted flyhalf Quade Cooper would be given further chances to build back to form.

The 35-year-old Queensland Super Rugby winner is working his way back from a ruptured Achilles tendon, with influential teammate Samu Kerevi also on the comeback trail from an ACL setback.

Quade Cooper appears in the box seat to be Wallabies No.10.Credit: Getty

While Carter Gordon appears set to be groomed for the No.10 jumper for the future, Jones stressed the likes of Cooper and Kerevi – who played key roles in the Wallabies first five-game winning run since the 2015 World Cup back in 2021 – needed to be afforded chances to return to their peak.

“We’ve got a number of players coming back from long-term injuries, and we know that as much as we’d like them to be at their best they’re not going to be at their best until the World Cup,” Jones said.

“This is part of the process so we don’t know where Quade’s going to end up, he’s still four games in returning from an Achilles tendon.

“With better exposure, quality training over the next period of time they’re going to get a lot sharper. I’ve got no doubt they’ll be at their best for the World Cup.”

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