One Percenters: Teenage star Petaia shapes as next long-term deal

by Sam Phillips and Beth Newman

Could Jordan Petaia be the next Aussie rugby star to sign a long-term deal, and why are there so many this year? It's all in One Percenters, plus plenty more.

Moves to lock down Jordan

With long-term deals all the rage in Australian rugby, don't be surprised if Jordan Petaia is next cab off the rank.

Petaia has been superb all year and after being called up to the Spring Tour squad, the 18-year-old could become the third-youngest ever Wallabies player, behind Brian Ford and James O’Connor, if he debuts against Wales or Italy over the next two weeks.

In a whisper that should shock no-one, we hear the Reds and Rugby Australia are keen to lock Petaia down on a long-term deal, and talks with the teenager are well and truly underway.

Petaia has impressed in the Wallabies environment, not just with his talent but his commitment as guardian of "Wally" the team mascot.

Tradition has it that the youngest player on tour has to keep Wally safe, mostly from his teammates whose duty it is to steal the stuffed toy and collect the fine payable by the rookie.

On a visit to an onsen for the Wallabies' recovery, Petaia didn't take any chances and took Wally in with him to the pool.

Long-term deals for stability: Castle

What's with all the long-term deals? Already this year we've seen Michael Hooper sign for five years and Israel Folau and Allan Alaalatoa commit for four. 

Prior to this year, the longest contracts given by the ARU were only ever three years, with the exception of a five-year deal for Lote Tuqiri in 2007, which he didn't see out. 

Rugby AU CEO Raelene Castle told us the strategy was twofold: to fight off foreign raiders, and to also begin planning long-term.

"I think the interesting thing about longer-term contracts from a national perspective is you need the balance between making sure you're securing players that are very attractive in the international market place, when you finish a World Cup and then the European markets are looking to secure some playing talent, I think that's important," she said.

"I think the second thing is you need some people to build the team around.

"You need to say, 'These are the types of people that we see by their character, their playing capability, their ability to grow and develop that we can build a team around. You need some core people to build your team around.

"But you also need the balance to make sure you don't lock up all the positions so young talent see that they can make their way into the Wallabies.

"It's about balancing those three things and I think age of players also comes into that mix so when you bring all those things together they'll end up being a balance of longer-term and shorter-term contracts."

Folau's deal is a particularly interesting one and though Castle was quick to stress it was still not entirely finalised, she didn't see a risk in locking him in for four more years even at 29. 

"I think there's some athletes who have physical capabilities that mean their bodies stand up to playing at this international level for longer periods of time," she said.

"He's an athlete that hasn't had any significant injuries and continues to perform and i think those are the types of considerations you have to think about as athletes get into the latter end of their career."

Aussie Sevens attempt World records 


Some members of the Australian men's sevens team attempted to break a few world records in a break from training last week.

Organised by Ben O'Donnell, the sevens lads tried to break the records of longest tortilla toss, most tackles in a minute and fastest doona cover change.

The attempts were overseen by RUPA media manager Pete Fairbairn, who doubles as a fully qualfied Guinness World Records adjudicator in his spare time.

Did they break the records? Watch the video (above) to find out.

Harris on hand to learn the Wallaby way

There are always interesting faces popping up at Wallabies training and their training week in Odawara was no exception.

Former Waratah and Wests Tigers player Sam Harris was at the Australian session on Thursday, decked out in all the gear and assisting with the drills.

Harris is now a defence coach with Japanese outfit Ricoh, where he works under former Wallabies forward Matt Cockbain.

BPA's back-up plan


Brandon Paenga-Amosa's rugby career is going pretty well but that didn't stop him from investigating a Plan B in Japan 

Paenga-Amosa donned the sumo kit in Odawara and had a crack at one of Japan's ancient sports Asahigaoka sumo club, near Odawara.

He posted with the caption: "Post rugby?  #YeaNah #WhenInSumoLandBeSumo #WedgieOfDoom #DaBoyz"

Somehow we don't think we'll be seeing him on the dohyo anytime soon.