Australia’s Mark Nawaqanitawase will switch from rugby union to rugby league after signing a two-year deal with Sydney Roosters which starts in 2025.
It makes the 23-year-old the first active Wallabies player to defect to rugby league since Mat Rogers returned to the National Rugby League (NRL) with the Gold Coast Titans in 2007.
“We are disappointed,” said Rugby Australia chief executive Phil Waugh.
“Mark has been a strong player over the last 12 months.”
Waugh added: “However, the outside backs are a position of strength for us, with great depth coming through.”
NSW Waratahs winger Nawaqanitawase, who has played 11 Tests for Australia, was part of the Wallabies side that struggled at the Rugby World Cup this year and failed to reach the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time in their history.
“At 23, Mark feels now is the best time to stay in Australia, but have a new experience in the Roosters programme for 2025 and 2026,” Nawaqanitawase’s agent Andrew Fairbairn told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“We hope the door will be open for Mark to return to the Wallabies fold in the future.”
Roosters full-back Joseph Suaalii will be moving in the opposite direction when he moves to rugby union after the 2024 NRL season.