The Roar
The Roar


Wonder kid offered 3-yr, $1.6m deal to stay in Aussie rugby - and why it could see Wallabies stars leave Ballymore

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26th March, 2024
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Four months after losing Mark Nawaqanitawase to the NRL, Rugby Australia has put together an extremely competitive bid to keep the Sydney Roosters’ mitts off fellow young gun Max Jorgensen.

But the wider ramifications of the deal could yet be felt, with the Reds in danger of losing two of their Test outside backs Jordan Petaia and Jock Campbell should Jorgensen stay in Australian rugby as expected.

With the Roosters reportedly tabling a two-year, $1.8 million offer to lure Jorgensen across Anzac Parade, The Roar can exclusively reveal RA has offered Jorgensen a three-year, $1.6m deal to keep him at the Waratahs.

If he were to accept the deal, he would be paid more than returning Waratah Andrew Kellaway and Brumby Tom Wright – both of whom have featured prominently for the Wallabies in recent years – despite not yet making his Test debut.

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Max Jorgensen has been offered a three-year deal by Rugby Australia to stay at the Waratahs. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Having lost Nawaqanitawase late last year, RA desperately doesn’t want to lose Jorgensen on the eve of the British and Irish Lions tour.

The 19-year-old is considered the most exciting fullback to emerge in Australian rugby since James O’Connor burst on the scene as a 17-year-old.


Jorgensen scored a double on debut last year against the Brumbies and was later taken by Eddie Jones on the Wallabies’ World Cup campaign in France.

But a devastating leg injury at training ended Jorgensen’s hopes of making his Test debut.  

Still today there are concerns about Jorgensen’s durability, with the fleet-footed back suffering a partially torn ACL last year that slowed his progress. The fear is that at some point his knee will go.

Nonetheless, despite an unusually poor game against the Drua in Fiji, where he dropped the ball on a couple of occasions, fell off a tackle and was found out of position by Frank Lomani’s right-boot, Jorgensen’s composure and balance have stood out since his eye-catching debut against the Brumbies last year in front of more than 20,000 fans.

Max Jorgensen passes during a Wallabies training session ahead of the Rugby World Cup France 2023 at Stade Roger Baudras on August 31, 2023 in Saint-Etienne. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)


It’s also why NRL suitors have kept a close eye on Jorgensen, particularly since it was confirmed 11 months ago that Joseph Suaalii was heading to Daceyville ahead of Rugby Australia’s showpiece events over the next four years, including the Lions tour and home World Cup.

Despite Jorgensen playing down the likelihood of a sensational early career switch, the Roosters are quietly confident of striking another blow on Australian rugby.

“Obviously it interests me, it’s definitely on the table,” Jorgensen told The Herald last week. “Yeah, I’ve had have had a good thought on it.

“I definitely want to do something like that in my career, just right now is probably the right time (to stay in union), but definitely on the table later in my career I think.”

Adding to the possibility of Jorgensen one day leaving is that his father, Peter, played for the Roosters.

“He’s a big person in my life, I can always talk to him if I need anything and he definitely helps me a lot,” Jorgensen added.


“He obviously advises me here or there, but he always leaves it up to me, he’s good, he doesn’t put me under any pressure or anything like that. He’s helpful like that and I just love talking to him.”

But Jorgensen’s continued stated desire to play against the Lions and feature in a home World Cup has many believing the teenager will stay in Australian rugby.

“I obviously love the game. I want to make my mark here, play for the Wallabies and obviously British Irish Lions, comes around every 12 years. So it’d be pretty cool to play in something like that,” Jorgensen told reporters in Sydney earlier this year.

“That’s a dream playing at a World Cup for the Wallabies and obviously with the British Irish Lions … if you miss that, you don’t really get another opportunity to do it again.”

Jordan Petaia of the Reds scores a try

Jordan Petaia’s future in Australian rugby is increasingly clouded. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Jorgensen’s decision, which is expected to be confirmed over the next fortnight, will likely influence RA’s course of action at Ballymore.

While Reds coach Les Kiss wants to keep both Petaia and Campbell, the slice of the pie will be significantly smaller if Jorgensen re-signs with RA, especially given Wright and Kellaway are signed for next year’s Lions tour.


At the very least, one of the outside backs would go with Petaia the most likely to leave Australian rugby.

As well as Kellaway’s impending arrival at Daceyville, the Waratahs also have another fullback option in Suaalii to arrive at the Super Rugby franchise ahead of the 2025 season.

It will leave next year’s coach, which increasingly looks unlikely to be Darren Coleman, a decision about who should wear the No.15 jersey.

But given Izaia Perese last week signed with Leicester Tigers, it’s expected Suaalii will play in the midfield.