Gordon backed to handle Wallabies goal-kicking

Wed, Aug 30, 2023, 12:49 AM
Melissa Woods - AAP
by Melissa Woods - AAP
As we look ahead to this year's TRC, Rebels Media sat down with reigning Players' Player Carter Gordon to reflect on his growth in 2023.

As a regular winner of Melbourne's highly-coveted blue jacket, Carter Gordon can rise to the challenge of handling the Wallabies' goal-kicking duties at the Rugby World Cup, according to Rebels attack coach Tim Sampson.

The Super Rugby mentor believes the 22-year-old has the skills and steely mindset to carry the high-pressure role when the Wallabies open their tournament in Paris against Georgia on Sunday, September 10 (AEST).

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In a crucial statistic, Gordon only succeeded with one from five kicks at goals in their World Cup warm-up against France as they fell 41-17.

But Sampson, who was the Western Force coach before joining the Rebels and has been integral to Gordon's meteoric rise, said while the five-eighth didn't usually handle Melbourne's goal-kicking he was a very capable ball-striker.

Super-boot Reece Hodge, who missed World Cup selection, is the Rebels' first-choice kicker.

"We have a competition with our goal-kickers in the pre-season and like the Masters golf has a green jacket for the winner, the lads went out a bought a blue blazer from the op-shop and have a weekly competition and whoever got the highest percentage would take the blazer home and Carter kicked very well and got to wear the jacket," Sampson told AAP. 

"He struck them well against France and they were only just shaving the uprights but they were important in terms of scoreboard pressure.

"He works extremely hard and I'm sure he will be doing that."

Sampson said Gordon, who has only played three Tests, didn't get the usual volume of practice during the 2023 Super Rugby season as Melbourne managed his training due to hip flexor and groin niggles.

Gordon didn't appear rattled by the misses at Stade de France with Sampson saying his ability to shrug off mistakes is a strength.

"That was probably the growth in maturity that I certainly saw this year in Carter," he admits.

"To accept that, as a young flyhalf, he's going to make mistakes and it's obviously key that we learn from from our mistakes but in his position as a 22-year-old flyhalf he's going to make mistakes. 

"He's worked hard on that, within that mental space, about how to respond and react to when something doesn't go his way."

Wallabies coach Eddie Jones made a bold call to leave veterans Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley out of his World Cup squad, leaving Gordon to predominantly wear the No.10 jersey. Sampson said Queensland-born Gordon was up for the responsibility of being Australia's main playmaker.

"He certainly won't shirk away from that," he said.

"He's very robust physically - we saw that this year in Super Rugby, where he carried a lot of a lot of the load for us as well. 

"It will be a challenge for him, and something different to be playing this volume of rugby at the back end of the Super Rugby season through the World Cup

"I do think he will be able to handle it and I'm sure Eddie and his staff will manage him wisely because he's so important."