Rookie flyhalf Carter Gordon insists that veteran coach Eddie Jones has given him the confidence to keep fighting for his place after a dramatic start to his international career.
Gordon only made his Test debut in July during the Rugby Championship in a thumping 43-12 defeat to South Africa before last month being named by Jones as the Wallabies’ only specialist fly-half at the World Cup, with Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley left behind Down Under.
A stunning try on his debut against the world champions was followed a month later by an erratic kicking performance in a 41-17 defeat to France in Australia’s last World Cup warm-up match, where he left 10 points on the field.
Stripped of kicking duties for Australia’s opening 35-15 World Cup Pool C victory over Georgia, Gordon saw his replacement in that respect, Ben Donaldson steal the show, scoring two tries and 25 points in a stunning individual performance from full-back.
What a pill from Carter Gordon. pic.twitter.com/dVPIIAp8lO
— Andy Rowe (@AndyRoweOnline) September 9, 2023
But Gordon insisted that the straight-talking Jones still trusts him.
“A few tough conversations … but I’ll take that with both hands, it’s such good feedback,” he said of Jones’s coaching feedback.
“Other times he’s let me do my thing and kinda find it for myself.”
Gordon said his confidence had not been knocked by losing kicking duties to the fullback, pointing out that Donaldson “was kicking really well in training” and that “it’s always good having another kicking option in the backline.”
Jones, though, has left him in no doubt that he has to earn the starting fly-half spot every day in training.
“Like Eddie says, you kinda get judged every day so you earn your jersey every day,” Gordon told reporters at Australia’s training base just outside Saint Etienne in central France.
“He’s put his belief in me but obviously expects me to train really hard, play really hard and keep earning that jersey and not let it kinda get away.”
While Jones took away the kicking responsibility from Gordon against Georgia, he wants the talented half-back to concentrate on his strengths.
“His ability to take the ball to the line. His ability to mix his game up and his defensive tenacity,” Jones previously said of Gordon.
Those strengths convinced the 62-year-old to put his faith in Gordon at the World Cup and leave Cooper and Foley behind.
“He just wants me to get my hands on the ball a little bit more at the moment so when there’s turnover he just wants me to get my hands on the ball, get in the play, directing play. So that’s the message for me at the moment,” said Gordon.
And he is free to do so having decided before the Georgia match when he caused a surprise having dispensed with his trademark flowing blond locks that had become a hazard.
“I liked the mullet for a little bit there and then last week before the game I was out training and it was a little bit windy and my hair was kind of blowing into my mouth and in my eyes and it was time for it to go,” he quipped.
© Agence France-Presse
Photo: Miguel MEDINA / AFP