Wallabies playmaker Carter Gordon is set to be dropped for the must-win clash against Wales despite All Blacks great Sonny Bill Williams calling for the youngster to be given a second chance. Plenty has been made of of Eddie Jones' decision to leave out the experience of Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley from this year's World Cup campaign.
Gordon has been given a chance to prove himself this World Cup, but was hauled off in the Test against Fiji as the Wallabies suffered a 22-15 loss. Gordon didn't have the best game with the Fijians targeting the youngster who conceded four turnovers, with his error taking a high ball contributing to their only try.
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And with Australia's chances of progressing out of the group stages hanging in the balance, Jones is reportedly set to drop Gordon to the bench for the must-win clash. Fullback Ben Donaldson, who played 30 minutes at five-eighth against Fiji, will start as the playmaker.
If Gordon is dropped, the move will anger Wallabies fans with Jones appearing to chop and change his team at will with little explanation. The six Test captains in seven matches shows the inconsistency and injury issues facing the Wallabies. One such critic so far of Jones' decisions in the squad has been All Blacks great Williams.
The World Cup winner called for Jones to stick with Gordon after the Fiji game having expressed surprise the veteran coach didn't carry an experienced playmaker in the squad to help guide the 21-year-old.
"My take on this whole ordeal of a game is, I feel for Carter Gordon right now," Williams said on Stan Sport. "Because he doesn't have a Quade Cooper or (Bernard) Foley to go back to the hotel and say 'bro, these things happen but you know you will be better.' It's really tough seeing him get pulled like that.
"And (Samu) Kerevi. But these selections, I'm going to call it how it is - we are in a high performance arena. And sometimes you live and die by your decisions and Eddie Jones got found out tonight unfortunately."
Williams also added: “Moving forward, what are [Australia] going to do about Carter Gordon? Personally, I would love to see Carter get another shot, just for the young man’s confidence. He’s been there or thereabouts the whole time for the last six or seven weeks. For him to be pulled out like that would be a tragedy.”
Rugby World reacts to Carter Gordon update
Vice-captain Tate McDermott defended Gordon after the Fiji game with no Wallabies player standing out in the loss. "I just want to make it really clear, it wasn't just Carter who had a tough day out there," he said, having missed the match due to concussion protocols.
"There's definitely other people in the same boat, and particularly being in a position, where I'm halfback, he's a flyhalf, if we're losing that battle at the breakdown it's a very tough day regardless." One fan also pointed out that if Gordon was dropped, it could be brutal for his confidence and career moving forward.
Honestly are we seeing Eddie cripple the promising career of Carter Gordon before it gets started ? Picked him. Threw him in where he was always going to struggle and is now dropping him for it. Hmmm… Where have we seen this before …. Mack Mason, Noah Lolesio!!!
— Rugby Report Card (@rugby_podcast) September 21, 2023
Wallabies assistant coach Dan Palmer didn't confirm any line-up change ahead of the vital clash against Wales, but also praised Donaldson having suggested the fullback adds composure to the team at five-eighth. "We've got two 10s that we're confident in and they're pushing each other really hard," Palmer said.
"Donno (Donaldson) brings a level of composure to that position ... we'll just pick the guy who's right for this weekend."
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