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'Best place for me': Wallaby-in-waiting Jorgensen commits to Aussie rugby in boost ahead of Lions series

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27th March, 2024
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In a boost for Australian rugby, in-demand teenage sensation Max Jorgensen has turned down advances from the NRL to re-sign with the Waratahs for another two years.

The 19-year-old was hotly pursued by the Sydney Roosters – the same club his father Peter played for in rugby league after becoming Wallaby 700 – but went with his heart and opted to pursue his dream of pulling on the gold jersey.

The Roar revealed on Tuesday that Jorgensen had been offered a three-year deal by Rugby Australia worth an estimated $1.6 million, but Jorgensen settled on a two-year extension likely believing he will earn an upgraded contract on the eve of the 2027 World Cup.

“I couldn’t be happier to commit my future to the Waratahs and Australian rugby,” Jorgensen said in a statement.

“The game has a lot to look forward to in this country in the coming years, and I am excited by the prospect of being a part of it.
“I am really enjoying my footy, and I believe this is the best place for me to continue my development – for me, it is all about working hard and trying to earn opportunities at the Waratahs, and hopefully the Wallabies.”

Max Jorgensen was picked for last year’s World Cup but his hopes of becoming the youngest Wallaby to appear at the tournament was ended after an ankle injury. (Photo: Adam Pretty – World Rugby via Getty Images)

Jorgensen will be joined at the Waratahs by incumbent Wallabies fullback Andrew Kellaway at the franchise next year, while NRL star Joseph Suaalii, who previously starred for the Australian Schoolboys, will also arrive at Daceyville ahead of next season.


It will give the Waratahs one of the most exciting backlines in the competition and several household names to come through the turnstiles.

It will also make selection fascinating for the Wallabies No.15 jersey, with electric Brumbies fullback Tom Wright another bound to return to the international scene after being brutally axed ahead of the World Cup last year.

After bursting on the scene as an 18-year-old by scoring a double on debut in Sydney, Jorgensen looked a Wallaby-in-waiting from the moment he first scored under the posts against the Brumbies.

Such was Jorgensen’s composure and balance with ball-in-hand that former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones didn’t hesitate in naming the teenager in his World Cup squad despite heading into the tournament still on the injury list.

Jorgensen was set to become the youngest Wallaby to make his debut at a World Cup before a broken ankle at training scuppered his dreams.

Nonetheless, Jones implored Rugby Australia to do everything they could to keep Jorgensen in the game and added that he was more suited to the 15-person game than rugby league.

“He’s a great, great kid, he works really hard, he’s everything you want in a rugby player,” Jones told The Australian earlier this month.


“I just hope rugby and I’m sure Rugby Australia is aware of how special a talent he is. You want to build your team around that sort of player.

“I think some players are born to be league players while I think his father was a guy that played rugby, but he was born to be a league player.

“Whereas, you know rugby is more of a tactical game. I’m not trying to decry rugby league at all. But I think Max would prefer to play rugby but yeah the [pay] gap is so big between the offers then, I think that then the gap becomes more important than the interest. The job of rugby is to close the gap with that without being silly – and I think if they can do that then you know Max would probably stay in rugby.”

Wallabies coach Eddie Jones talks with Max Jorgensen during an Australia Wallabies training camp at Sanctuary Cove on April 17, 2023 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Eddie Jones in conversation with Max Jorgensen during a Wallabies training camp at Sanctuary Cove on April 17, 2023. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Jorgensen’s stunning first season only intensified the Roosters’ desire to lure him across Anzac Parade, with the teenager meeting Trent Robinson and training with them throughout the off-season, but the rising star of Australian rugby always appeared destined to stay in the 15-person game.

“That’s the dream to play in a World Cup, playing for the Wallabies,” Jorgensen told The Roar ahead of the Super Rugby season.

“Obviously with the British and Irish Lions coming up next year, it only comes around every 12 years, so if you miss that you don’t really get another opportunity to do it again, so playing in something like that would be awesome.


“I’m just focusing on this year, trying to have a good season with the Tahs and then see what happens.”

Indeed, Jorgensen is the most exciting teenager since James O’Connor burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old but has the temperament and maturity to hold him in good stead.

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

It’s one of the reasons why Rugby Australia was intent on keeping him in the game, particularly with two showpiece events on the horizon.

“Max is a promising young player and we’re very pleased he’s committed to Australian Rugby for a further two years,” new RA director of high performance Peter Horne said.
“He’s a mature young man, with an encouraging future and Rugby Australia are looking forward to supporting him as he strives to perform well both on and off the field.”

His Waratahs coach Darren Coleman, who threw out his plans of easing him into Super Rugby last year when he saw first-hand the prodigious talent and level head, said it was an exciting moment for Australian rugby.


“It’s really exciting for both the Waratahs and Australian rugby as a whole to have someone like Max recommit to our sport,” he said. 

“A player like him obviously attracts a lot of interest, but I know that he’s really motivated to achieve success in his rugby career.
“We’ve all seen what he can do on the field, but Max is also an awesome team member and the boys love having him as a part of our club. 
“The Waratahs are very happy to keep Max and we look forward to seeing him progress in the sky blue jersey.”

What Jorgensen’s extension means for the rest of the emerging cohort of players remains to be seen, with several young Wallabies raising eyebrows about RA’s desire to throw the cheque book at the teenager to keep him in the game.

It means that RA will have others demanding more.

For now though the Wallabies and Joe Schmidt have locked away an outstanding young prospect.