There is always room for good news in the world of rugby union, although the Wallabies have not supplied much of late.
Teen sensation Jordan Petaia has made a four-year commitment to Rugby Australia, crediting his Queensland Reds Super Ruby coach Brad Thorn with the decision to stay with union, despite the interest of NRL clubs.
Thorn himself is a dual international, and Petaia is young, so he can always make the hop at some point ahead, but for now, Super Rugby can pat itself of the back and Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle can watch this weekend’s clash between England and Australia knowing that the Wallabies exile at world number seven might soon be over.
Petaia was slotted to make his Test debut against Italy in Padua, but he hurt him hamstring during training and had to watch.
“My parents and me are big fans of Brad Thorn and his coaching, and his discipline towards rugby,” Petaia told reporters in London.That was probably a big factor there, playing under him and… developing as a player.It’s probably best suited having a good coach, if I stay there I’ll probably develop my game.”
It might seem so, but we doubt Petaia holds any negative views to the likes of Wayne Bennet or any of the other NRL coaches.
The optimistic view expressed by the rank and file of the Wallabies’ coaching ranks is that Petaia possesses the potential to be the best outside back prospect to come along in years.
Petaia may have given some consideration to staying close to home, something he could not have done if he had taken a job with Melbourne or one of the Sydney NRL franchises and he confirmed that idea, saying, “I’m pretty fortunate to stay in my home town and not have to travel away from family, that was a big part of staying in Queensland and Australian rugby.”
Petaia has some lines to Aussie Rules, although those lines are limited to his grandfather Roy Lalor, who played VFL footy for Essendon over 60 years ago. The family suggested he give footy a go, as his mother was from the cabbage patch and came from a footy and cricket family.