But the 27-year-old has a message for any doubters.
“Look, to be honest, the last time you guys wrote us off and we played the Reds we won 45-12. I don’t really care,” Gordon said.
“I think we have a great bunch of young guys here with an extreme amount of talent. You only have to look at Mark Nawaqanitawase – probably the best aerial guy in the competition.
“We have great outside backs in Joey Walton, James Ramm, a young guy like Will Harrison, Angus Bell in the forward pack. We have class across the whole park.
“I know we have lost a lot of maturity in Rob Simmons and Michael Hooper but that’s something we have to live with and to fill that void. We will be an exciting team.”
Gordon pointed to the final four or five fixtures of last season – in which the Waratahs improved – as proof they can match it with the top Australian teams.
“Reflecting on last year, you look at the last four games of our Super Rugby AU and I think we played some really good rugby. We want to run with that,” he said.
“We’re quite clear on how we want to attack and defend and we want to play with a lot of pace and be ferocious in the contact area.”
NSW coach Rob Penney said Gordon has “unanimous” support from the players, which made the captaincy decision easy.
“He’s got unanimous support from his peers, which is obviously a big one. He’s highly regarded by and endorsed by Hoops, who’s still keeping in contact,” Penney said.
“But underpinning all of that really is his outstanding character. He’s a really easy to get along with character that people will embrace. And he’s a fierce competitor. We’ve lost a couple of people and Hoops in particular, brings that competitive edge every week.
“Jake has got a lot of that in him and I look forward to him unleashing himself and bringing that hard part of leading by example, as Hoops did.”
While the Waratahs intend on climbing the Super Rugby AU ladder, Penney is also well aware of the responsibility the Australian sides have to promote rugby now that one match every weekend will be broadcast live on Nine.
“I think it’s really important for the game here that when young people watch other codes, there is a freedom and free flow about it. And we have to emulate that. We can’t be stodgy and set piece driven all the time,” Penney said.
“We have to be able to show that rugby is a beautiful game when it’s played quickly and the continuity of rugby is quite unique. That’s a really exciting component of our game.
“But still retain the essence and the brutality of the defence, the collisions and the breakdown.
“Keeping the purists locked in but shining a light on the faces of the young kids who are watching a multitude of different sports so they say, ‘Shit, I want to have a go at that rugby game and play at a genuine World Cup at some point’.”
Sam is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.
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