Italy again looms as the land of opportunity for Waratahs star Jake Gordon, who is set to start at halfback for the Wallabies against the Azzurri in Florence on Sunday.

As part of Wallabies coach Dave Rennie’s spring tour rotation of halfbacks, Gordon will get his chance in the No.9 jersey this weekend.

Queensland’s Tate McDermott was the starting halfback in Australia’s 16-15 win over Scotland last month, while the Brumbies’ Nic White had the role in the Wallabies’ 30-29 loss to France last Sunday morning.

Now it’s Gordon’s turn.

“I’m really excited for the opportunity,” said Gordon, who hade his Test debut against Italy four years ago in a 26-7 Wallabies win in Padova.

“I have pretty fond memories. I thought I’d get a few minutes off the bench but I ended up starting the game.

“To get the opportunity, and then to have a good win, was awesome.”

Gordon said the competition for the first-choice halfback spot in Australia’s squad for next year’s Rugby World Cup was “red hot”.

“Tate and Nic both played really good games,” he said.

“That’s the luxury that we’ve got. We’ve got really good halfbacks in the country who are desperate to play footy.”

Rather than put pressure on himself about needing to perform to continue his push for World Cup selection, Gordon said Sunday morning’s match was “just another opportunity to play well”.

“I’m not too sure what they’re going to do (in terms of the World Cup),” he said.

“It’s just important that I play some really good footy over the next few weeks and then have a really good Super Rugby year next year.

“That other stuff is out of my control. I just really need to focus on playing some good rugby and see what happens.

“I’m not too focused about the rotation and thinking that this is my last opportunity.”

Gordon said the Wallabies were keen to ease the pain of their narrow loss to France by beating the Italians.

“Everyone’s still disappointed by that result since we dominated a lot of the game and put ourselves in a position to win it,” Gordon said.

“There were definite positives from that game … it was just disappointing in that last five minutes we let it slip.”

The Wallabies have lost Lalakai Foketi for the remainder of the tour, with the Waratahs centre returning to Australia early with a suspected fractured leg.

Foketi scored a try against the French before limping off soon after.

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