Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Rugby Australia’s pursuit of NRL talent is no secret but the fact that they are now after the game’s biggest star should have the competition’s power brokers worried.
At 25 years old Nathan Cleary has just about done it all in Rugby League.
In seven seasons he has won two premierships, three State of Origin series, a Rugby League World Cup and the Clive Churchill Medal.
The fact that Cleary has already achieved so much in Rugby League could help persuade him to cross codes, something that he is open to.
When speaking to The Daily Mail, Rugby Australia’s Chairman Hamish McLennan spoke about Penrith’s halfback possibly moving to Rugby Union.
“Nathan Cleary wasn’t on the original list as we thought he’d be untouchable, but he said he’d be open to a switch,” said McClellan.
“I’d forgotten he’d spent time growing up in New Zealand, so he appreciates the game and gets it.
“Imagine him running out in front of 85,000 people wearing Wallaby gold at Stade de France.
Cleary is currently contracted to the Panthers until the end of 2027 which could see him do the unthinkable and make his Rugby Union debut at the 2027 Rugby World Cup.
As the World Cup will likely kick off not too long after the NRL season ends, Cleary could be selected in the Wallabies squad for the World Cup if he is still displaying the great form that he has shown throughout his career so far.
By then the New South Wales representative may have also added a Dally M Player of the Year award to his trophy cabinet, well and truly leaving him with nothing left to prove in the NRL.
Rugby Australia has also been vocal about their pursuit of other NRL players such as Cameron Murray who has a background in Union.
So far the only confirmed code switch from the Rugby League to Union is Joseph Suaalii who will leave the Sydney Roosters at the end of 2024 to pursue a career in the 15-a-side game with Super Rugby and European to be clubs lining up for his signature in a year’s time.
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