Petaia taking Wally duties seriously

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

You don’t make your Super Rugby debut at 18 without being a cool customer but Wallabies youngster Jordan Petaia had a rare moment of panic as the squad left for Italy.

As the youngest member in the squad, Petaia is in charge of the Wallabies mascot Wally and faces punishments if he doesn’t have the plush toy with him everywhere he goes.

Petaia is generally very composed but when the squad landed in Padova on Monday morning (AEDT), suddenly he found himself in a frenzied hunt for Wally.

After a few panicked runs into bathroom stalls, the jig was up and hooker Folau Fainga’a returned Wally to Petaia.

“Yesterday at the airport in Bristol for about five minutes they had me chasing back to the bathrooms looking for it and then I found out they had it,” he told reporters in Italy.

Wallabies playmaker Matt To’omua hasn’t ever had the responsibility of looking after Wally but said there had been plenty of stunts pulled on the caretaker in his time with the squad.

“I've never had to have him because James O'Connor was here at the time and he is younger than me even though he had been around longer,” he said.

“He's been hung from a building before. There has been photos a few indecent ones here and there. I am sure Jordy as the tour goes on will have to get a bit more vigilant with it.”

“When guys have been sleeping, there has been guys getting their room keys to get it, Guys have really gone out of their way to get it sometimes which is good.”

Petaia will become the third-youngest Wallabies debutant in history if he wins his first cap in Padova.

In a quirk of rugby history, Petaia would be the youngest since James O’Connor, who made his debut the last time Australia played Italy in Padova in 2008.

The Wallabies won that clash 30-20, which was the first European leg of their tour, coming after a 19-14 Bledisloe loss in Hong Kong.

Australia went on to claim wins over England and France in that tour before dropping the final Test of the campaign to Wales by three points.

Australia takes on Italy in Padova on Saturday November 17, kicking off at 3pm local, Sunday 1am AEDT, LIVE on bein Sports channel 515.