Jordan Petaia has signed a four-year deal with Rugby Australia ending any speculation linking the talented 18-year-old with a move to the NRL.
Exciting Wallabies rookie Jordan Petaia has rejected interest from NRL clubs and committed his future to rugby union, signing a new four-year contract with Rugby Australia.
A talented junior rugby league player, 18-year-old Petaia grew up idolising Israel Folau, Billy Slater and the North Queensland Cowboys.
Cruelly denied a Test rugby debut against Italy last weekend due to a hamstring injury at training, Petaia said he had no hesitation signing the deal despite NRL approaches.
He credited his Queensland Reds Super Rugby coach, dual international Brad Thorn, as a major influence and reason for staying put.
“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.”
Petaia didn’t play rugby union until attending Brisbane State High School and is now regarded by the Wallabies coaching staff as one of the most exciting young Australian outside backs for many years.
Subsequently, there is a feeling of great relief around Rugby Australia that he opted to stay in the code and the winger said he never really considered switching.
“I’m pretty fortunate to stay in my hometown and not have to travel away from family, that was a big part of staying in Queensland and Australian rugby,” Petaia said.
Petaia admitted disappointment of missing out on his debut difficult was to deal with, but thanked senior members of the Wallabies for support they showed him.
“They were awesome, everyone got around me and helped me deal with it,” he said.
“I did it at a session at training just after I found out [I had been selected].
“I just stopped running, pulled out of training, I was hoping it was a day injury, just a tweak.
“But I got the scans back and it was a little tear, so obviously I wasn’t too happy.”
Petaia is from an Australian Rules family with his grandfather, Roy Lalor, a former Essendon player who made six appearances for the Bombers in the 1956 season.
“My mum’s side were all footy players, cricket players and grew up in Victoria,” he said.
“There are always a few jokes cracked over at family dinners they are always saying ‘give footy a go’.
“I don’t kick an AFL ball too much but I’ve got an alright shoe.”