Waratahs sign rising star on same trajectory as Suaalii as NRL clubs miss out

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Robinson has had luck in the past when it comes to talented youngsters, with Suaalii leaving the Rabbitohs in late 2021 for the Sydney Roosters.

Rugby officials were disappointed to miss out on signing Suaalii out of school and did not want a repeat when it came to Jorgensen, particularly given his pedigree and relationship with his father who played two Tests for the Wallabies before an NRL career with the Roosters and Panthers.

Peter Jorgensen (right) playing for Penrith in 2000.

Peter Jorgensen (right) playing for Penrith in 2000.Credit:Craig Golding

Sources with knowledge of negotiations say the Roosters and Bulldogs pushed hard for Jorgensen’s signature.

However, the Waratahs were always quietly confident they would keep Jorgensen and his deal has been sweetened with a Rugby Australia top-up on top of what NSW is paying.

Waratahs coach Darren Coleman said he was thrilled to have Jorgensen commit to rugby but made it clear there was plenty of hard work ahead.

“Max understands he has a long way to go and a lot of work to do before he can become a fully-fledged Super Rugby player,” Coleman said. “But we look forward to working with him and helping him develop his game.

“Securing Max is a positive outcome, not only for the Waratahs but for Australian rugby, as he is one of the elite schoolboys from the class of 2022 and highly sought after.”

RA chairman Hamish McLennan has made no secret about trying to poach some of rugby league’s best players in the lead-up to the 2027 World Cup on Australian shores.

“These players love the game and they know that a Rugby World Cup experience in Australia can’t be replicated by league,” McLennan said in May after Australia was awarded hosting rights. “We’ve already chatted with a few [NRL] players who are interested in joining us and now that we’ve got the World Cup.”

Jorgensen began playing rugby when he was five and has played both codes simultaneously, with stints for the Balmain Wolves in rugby and Leichhardt Juniors in league.

“I’m excited by the opportunities in rugby over the next few years and looking forward to playing high-quality rugby with some amazing players at the Waratahs,” said Jorgensen, who will run out for a Waratahs development team against a Brumbies XV on Saturday in Canberra.

Meanwhile, RA will name an Australia A squad on Wednesday for three matches next month in Japan against a Japan XV. Suliasi Vunivalu, Lachlan Lonergan and Pone Fa’amausili are set to be included in the 35-man squad.

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In other news, Darcy Swain will learn his fate on Wednesday after being cited by SANZAAR for a “reckless and dangerous” cleanout on New Zealand reserve Quinn Tupaea in last week’s Bledisloe opener.

Tupaea suffered knee ligament damage as a result of the hit, which could see Swain miss a number of Wallabies matches, including this week’s second match against the All Blacks at Eden Park.

Australia’s 37-34 loss in Melbourne last week means New Zealand will retain the Bledisloe Cup for another year but victory at Eden Park would mark the Wallabies’ first triumph over the All Blacks at the famous ground since 1986.

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