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Nawaqanitawase growing in confidence after ‘mind-blowing’ Ireland battle

Nawaqanitawase growing in confidence after ‘mind-blowing’ Ireland battle

Nawaqanitawase growing in confidence after ‘mind-blowing’ Ireland battle

A handful for defenders and commentators alike, Australia’s breakthrough star Mark Nawaqanitawase, says he is growing in confidence at international level.

Standing 6ft4in tall and with long frizzy hair, Nawaqanitawase may only be two caps into his Wallabies career, but he has already had rugby fans’ heads turning.

He was a surprise selection for their clash with Ireland in Round 3 of the Autumn Nations Series and has been selected on the wing once more as depleted Australia head to Wales looking to end their year on a high this weekend.

With a tendency to drift off his wing as he goes in search of the ball, coupled with a strong offloading game, Nawaqanitawase could soon be one of world’s rugby most enjoyable players to watch.

“I don’t want to be a hogger or anything like that, but I definitely think I go looking for the ball quite a bit,” he said.

“For me, it’s a way I can get into the game and sometimes the only way I can get into the game is to go looking for the ball.

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“I think some players hold back a bit with systems and stuff like that, but I’m confident in myself to go looking for it.

“I like to think I’ve got a little offload game. I feel I can get through contact most of the time and I’m fortunate enough to have some long arms, so I try to look for the boys when I’m out there.”

Nawaqanitawase has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top, having been way down the pecking order at the Waratahs before forcing his way into the side and then taking a spot in Australia’s sevens team for the summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

He first showed glimpses of what he could do during the U20 World Championship in 2019, starting every game as Australia made it to the final, scoring in their 24-23 defeat to France.

Playing against the world’s No.1 ranked side was certainly one of the more challenging tests Nawaqanitawase has faced to date, though the 22-year-old is not getting ahead of himself.

On the Ireland game, he said: “It was definitely a mind-blowing experience. For me it’s one of the biggest games I’ve ever been a part of and the crowd was just amazing. They made it hard for us to hear and do our job at times, but it’s definitely an experience I’ll never forget.

“I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing. I like to think I’m chilled, so I don’t read too much into anything, I’m just going to keep enjoying it and having fun.”

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