Wallabies coach Eddie Jones picked “a younger crew” for the Rugby World Cup, and there could also be no participant who has borne the duty of the aspect’s inexperience than Carter Gordon.
Coach Jones determined to omit veteran Quade Cooper from the Wallabies’ World Cup squad, and as an alternative picked younger Gordon as the one Australian listed as a flyhalf within the 33-man group.
But the playmaker has struggled at Test level, and that includes Australia’s two World Cup matches so far. Gordon was replaced about 10 minutes into the second half of Sunday night’s loss to Fiji.
Gordon conceded a few turnovers within the first 30 minutes of the clash, and also failed to complete a tackle out of two attempts. The first half an hour summed up Gordon’s tough night in Saint-Etienne.
But coach Jones has backed the flyhalf to bounce back, just as he did after Gordon’s tough starting debut at the world-famous MCG in July.
“We needed to get some moment in the game. I thought (Issak Fines-Leleiwasa) Fines did that, (Ben) Donaldson at 10 did that, Mark (Nawaqanitawase) going to 15 did that, and Suli (Vunivalu) scored us a try that put us back into the game,” Jones told reporters on Sunday.
“I thought they were positive changes that we made.
“Carter is a young 10, he’s going to have those days mate. I think I’ve said this before, he’s going to have those days but he’ll bounce back, he’s a good young player.
“We’ve gone with a young team. I’ve got no regrets at all,” Jones added. “We’ve building a team for the future and we’re going to go through some pain, and some of the younger players are going go through some pain.
“That’s generally how you have an apprenticeship. (Carter) He’s got plenty of support.’
The Wallabies showed signs of improvement during the final quarter of the Test, but in truth, the match was already all but lost.
Fiji had raced out to a commanding 22-8 lead with about 15 minutes to play, and time waits for no man. The clock beat the Wallabies as the Flying Fijians held firm in defence for a historic win.
That victory – which was Fiji’s first win over Australia since 1954 – saw Jones’ Wallabies fall to an undesirable record of one win from seven Tests this year.
The result leaves the men in gold on the brink of what would be the Wallabies’ worst-ever record at a World Cup. If Australia fails to beat Wales in Lyon next weekend, they won’t make the quarter-finals.
“I’ve made the decision to go for a young team and if that’s the wrong decision then I’ll be held accountable for that.
“I think Australian rugby needs to move on to a younger team and I’m prepared to experience some pain to through it; to leave Australia with a team that’s capable of doing really well at a World Cup.
“That’s not to say that we can’t do that. We’ve had a bit of a setback today but that’s all part of being in a World Cup.
“I do remember South Africa lost a game and won the World Cup so funnier things have happened.”