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Rugby player Mark Nawaqanitawase joins NRL team Roosters in a new agreement.


Rugby Australia has been dealt another setback as Wallabies player Mark Nawaqanitawase has decided to sign a two-year contract with NRL team, the Roosters, starting in 2025.

The 23-year-old’s performances at this year’s Rugby World Cup were among the few positive aspects in an otherwise disappointing tournament for Australia, where they were knocked out in the pool stage.

Phil Waugh, the Chief Executive of Rugby Australia (RA), expressed gratitude towards Nawaqanitawase for his contributions in playing 11 games for the Australian team.

Waugh expressed disappointment, stating that Mark had been a formidable player in the past year.

“We have a strong group of outside backs, with plenty of depth and talent. We are confident in our future prospects for wingers.”

According to Andrew Fairbairn, Nawaqanitawase’s agent, the choice to join the Roosters was a challenging one.

Fairbairn stated that the process has been demanding for Mark and his family, and has required careful navigation over a period of time.

Mark, who is 23 years old, believes that the present moment is ideal for him to remain in Australia while also embarking on a new venture with the Roosters program for both 2025 and 2026. The Roosters coach, Trent Robinson, has a track record of successfully developing rugby union players, which ultimately played a significant role in Mark’s choice.

The Roosters are aiming to rejuvenate their team following a disappointing season where they placed seventh in the NRL and were knocked out in the second round of the playoffs.

Nawaqanitawase started playing 13-a-side in his early years, but at 14 years old, he shifted to union and joined St Pat’s college and Eastwood club.

Roosters outside back Joseph Suaalii agreed to join rugby union in March, starting in 2025. The deal for Nawaqanitawase means the two will effectively trade places.

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According to Fairbairn, Nawaqanitawase, who is committed to playing for the Waratahs until 2024, has not completely dismissed the possibility of returning to union.

Many kind individuals, including fans, have been a part of Mark’s journey. This has made the decision quite emotional. We hope that there will be an opportunity for Mark to rejoin the Wallabies in the future.

The sport of rugby has been working to improve after a difficult year in 2023, which saw the hiring and subsequent dismissal of Eddie Jones as the Wallabies coach, as well as the removal of Hamish McLennan as chair.

However, there is still hope that the game will bounce back. In the previous month, the code was able to secure financial support in the form of a deal with Pacific Equity Partners. This will enable investments in high-performance programs, women’s rugby, grassroots competitions, and development pathways.

The Australia tour for the British and Irish Lions is scheduled for 2025, while RA has been chosen to host the 2027 men’s World Cup and the 2029 women’s tournament.

Source: theguardian.com