Petaia can become Wallaby great: Horan

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

Champion centre Tim Horan believes Jordan Petaia can be the turnstile-spinning star Australian rugby has been craving and has the potential to become a Wallaby great.

Petaia was outstanding partnering Samu Kerevi in the centres in the Reds' narrow Super Rugby loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin last Friday.

And Horan believes the teen will draw thousands of extra fans to Queensland's first home game of the season against the Crusaders on Saturday.

Petaia was named to make his Wallabies debut against Italy on last year's sprint tour before a hamstring injury cruelled his dream.

But Horan said the 18-year-old had the potential to become a "great" of the game, something he showed with his Reds performance.

"It was a fantastic performance and something that Australian rugby's been looking for - who are the next couple of stars that are coming through," Horan said.

Samu Kerevi of the Queensland Reds is tackled by Dillon Hunt of the Highlanders during the Round 2 Super Rugby match between the Otago Highlanders and Queensland Reds at Forsyth Barr Stadium on February 22, 2019 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images)

The assured showing has the former Brisbane State High School student in line for a World Cup call up if he can back it up regularly during the Super Rugby season.

"One game doesn't make a player and he would know that, he's young enough to know that and he's got some reasonably experienced players around him - like Samu Kerevi - to lead his way and make sure that he keeps his feet on the ground and understand that it's about stringing five to 10 games together like he did on Friday night.

"He's got the chance to be a great player.

"He can be a good player in the next couple of years but then it takes two or three or four years to become a great player."

 

The Kerevi-Petaia pairing can be a great one for the Reds this season and Horan said while it was too early to pencil the pair in as midfield starters in the World Cup, a solid combination would do their chances of wearing the 12 and 13 no harm.

"There's a lot of depth. You've got Tevita Kuridrani, Karmichael Hunt's playing very well there, you've got Kurtley Beale," Horan said.

"But we've really performed well in World Cups where we've had combinations of players - whether it's Jason Little and myself early on, whether it was myself and Daniel Herbert in '99 or whether it's the Giteaus and the combinations later on.

"You need people who have been playing together."

While he marks him as a star of the future, Horan said it was too early to tell whether he was a World Cup starter.

"He needs to take his time and show the selectors six, seven, eight games in a row of really good performances," Horan said.

"But the great thing about (the Reds' first home game) this Saturday is that people should come and watch Jordan Petaia play.

"These players don't come along that often and we should be thankful that he's chosen to stay in the game of rugby union and not go to rugby league.

"I think another 5000 to 7500 people will turn up here on Saturday just to watch Jordan Petaia."