Fullback, centre or wing? It doesn’t really matter when it comes to Jordan Petaia if you ask his Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn – as long as you stick to one rule.
“There was a move in the All Blacks: pass the ball to Jonah because he’s good,” the 56-Test New Zealand lock said.
“That’s a good move … and I just think he’s (Petaia) one of those special guys, they’re just good.
“He’s played for Australia at 13 and he’s done very well for us there and done very well on the wing and I reckon he’d do very well at the back (No.15) as well.”
The 21-year-old has been shifted from the centres to wing for the last two Reds victories, starring in Saturday night’s 24-22 win against the Brumbies.
He was safe under the high ball, intimidating in defence and soared high to catch a bomb and score the game’s final try.
But it was his pinpoint 50-22 kick from open play to set up that try that pundits will remember as the developing talent continues to show signs of evolution.
Injuries have done their best to slow his rapid rise but Petaia has already played eight Tests, most recently slotting in alongside Reds teammate Hunter Paisami at No.13 for the Wallabies.
Making the best use of his talents has become a talking point of the Reds’ seven-game Super Rugby AU winning streak that will see them host the final on May 8 at Suncorp Stadium.
With Paisami (calf) a late scratching to face the Brumbies, Thorn could have moved Petaia back into the midfield and promoted another Wallaby winger Filipo Daugunu off the bench.
Instead, he left Petaia on the flank and trusted 19-year-old Josh Flook to fill Paisami’s boots at No.13.
The extra space at the back, and the heightened kicking responsibilities, allowed Petaia to show off his returns from regular sessions with kicking guru Dave Alred.
The performance and mind coach helped England great Jonny Wilkinson develop his now-famous kicking technique and was in Francesco Molinari’s corner in the lead-up to his 2018 Open Championships golf major win.
Alred is now in Brisbane, having also worked with the Brisbane Lions’ AFL team and now teaming with the Reds’ kickers.
“Isn’t it great to see him develop his game with his kicking? It hasn’t come by chance, it’s come by hard work and working with good people,” Thorn said.
“Jordy, you give him the ball, if you give reasonable footy to him, he can beat defenders and if you put a kick up, there’s a good chance he’ll come down with it.”