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Senior Wallabies rally around misfiring Gordon

By AFP - Sep 22,2023 - Last updated at Sep 22,2023

ANDRÉZIEUX-BOUTHÉON, France — Australia's senior backs need to take more responsibility to ease the pressure on young fly-half Carter Gordon, experienced centre Samu Kerevi said on Thursday.

Gordon had already produced a poor place-kicking performance in the Wallabies' final tournament warm-up match against France before adding some erratic kicking from hand in their opening 35-15 Pool C victory over Georgia.

When he suffered a torrid time in Sunday's shock 22-15 defeat to Fiji, he was hauled off by head coach Eddie Jones early in the second half to be replaced at fly-half by full-back Ben Donaldson.

Fijian-born Keveri said Gordon's teammates have rallied around him this week as Australia prepare to face Wales in a game the Wallabies realistically need to win to stay in the tournament.

"We've had a couple of guys get around him. It's not just Carts, there's a lot of guys that need guidance," Kerevi said of the young Wallabies squad in France.

Even veteran prop James Slipper "had a yarn with" 22-year-old Gordon, said Kerevi.

"I don't know if he's given him too much advice on how to play 10," he quipped.

The senior players have talked about how to alleviate the pressure on their fly-half, who was clearly targeted by Fiji's powerful tacklers and will likely be again this weekend against Wales, if he is picked to start.

Some sections of the Australian press have reported that Jones is set to drop Gordon and play Donaldson at fly-half, with Andrew Kellaway coming in at full-back, although line-out coach Dan Palmer refused to confirm that.

"Dono [Donaldson] brings a little bit of composure to that position but we've got two 10s that are pushing each other really hard and we'll pick the guy who is right for this weekend," said Palmer.

Even if not picked to start, Gordon would likely be on the bench and come on at some point.

"We've sat down this week and talked about how he [Gordon] felt about the [Fiji] game and how to approach certain things on the field, and where I can help," said Kerevi.

"At the end of the day, if I'm not helping him with the connection as well, you're just leaving him on an island."

Kerevi vowed to "support him more out on the field because not everything has to come off 10, not everything has to come off nine.

"We can shift the ball around to alleviate that pressure. We all see different pictures and that's what we spoke about this week to help each other."

 

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