Another rising rugby star headhunted by NFL scouts
TRANSFER TALK: It seems like another top rugby star might be heading the USA, as the Australia utility back Jordan Petaia is attracting interest from the National Football League (NFL).
The 23-year-old Petaia’s contract with Rugby Australia and Super Rugby franchise Reds is set to conclude at the end of 2024 and representatives from a few sporting codes have been reaching out to the Wallaby.
According to The Daily Telegraph in Australia, Petaia has been approached by the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program, a Queensland NRL side, and Japanese rugby clubs.
Should the back opt to swap the Rugby Union for the NFL, then he would join Wales international Louis Rees-Zammit and England back Harry Mallinder in the same programme.
Whether the young man joins the NFL or decides to play in Japan or NRL, it will be a huge blow for Rugby Australia, who already lost the services of star-wing Mark Nawaqanitawase.
One of Wallabies’ best during Eddie Jones’ reign, Nawaqanitawase signed a two-year deal with the Sydney Roosters.
Touted as one of the superstars of tomorrow, the report of Petaia has to concern the Wallabies, who will host the British and Irish Lions in 2025.
However, despite the decisions for now Petaia is focused on Super Rugby Pacific with the Reds.
“I don’t know about other players but there’s not too much pressure around that stuff,” Petaia told The Daily Telegraph.
“It doesn’t change anything with my mindset. I’m focused on the Reds this year and for however long that is, but I’m just focused on this environment and doing what’s best for the team.
“I’ve had a few questions about (the NRL) but it’s still so early in the year. I still have this whole year to figure out what I’m going to do.
“I’m just enjoying my time at the Reds and trying to build a winning culture here and see what options I’ve got at the end of the year with my manager.
“He takes care of most of that stuff and is fairly switched on there. I’ve just got to play footy and keep healthy.”
Hope after Eddie
While the memories of last year’s World Cup campaign are still fresh in the minds of supporters all across Australia, there is a sense of new hope for fans as Joe Schmidt has been announced as the official head coach of the Wallabies.
The former World Rugby Coach of the Year Schmidt replaced Eddie Jones, He was revealed to be the Wallabies’ third head coach in as many years at a press conference at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium last week.
Schmidt has penned a deal through until at least the end of the British and Irish Lions series next year, but beyond then, only time will tell as to whether the coach stays on.
Petaia is hopeful that Schmidt can bring out the best in teh national team.
“I don’t know a lot about Joe Schmidt,” Petaia said.
“He’s coached a lot in the northern hemisphere, but I’m glad someone has filled that role and it’s exciting for Australian rugby.
“I’ve never said I was going to leave rugby, but the winning is always good.
“A part of last year was just moving on from that campaign and we’re starting a new lead.
“We always want to build a winning culture, and want to be part of a winning culture.”