‘We’d be delighted to take him earlier’: Wallabies ready to pounce as Suaalii’s Roosters future takes surprise twist


The Wallabies are keen to get their hands on Joseph Suaalii early after the Roosters are reportedly considering an early release from his contract. 

Signed with the NRL club until the end of 2024 before taking up a three-year deal with Rugby Australia, the 19-year-old prodigy could be allowed to walk at the end of this season 

His form has dropped in the past month since he signed his deal to play rugby and Roosters chairman Nick Politis said it was too early to say whether he would remain at the Roosters next year.

An early release would financially benefit Suaalii – he is on a reported $700,000 next season at the Roosters but is set to earn nearly double that in rugby.

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Complicating matters, Politis does not deal directly with Suaalii’s manager, Isaac Moses, due to a long-running feud. 

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 30: Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii of the Sydney Roosters during the round five NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Parramatta Eels at Allianz Stadium on March 30, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Joseph Suaalii . (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Suaalii’s involvement and impact has been below his best in recent weeks while Roosters coach Trent Robinson and captain James Tedesco were fuming with the entire team’s performance after their 20-6 upset loss to North Queensland on Sunday in Magic Round.

The Roosters have dropped to eighth on the ladder with a 5-4 record and are rank outsiders for Friday’s trip to Penrith against the premiers.

“We have no plans to release him at this stage. The final say on recruitment is always with Robbo anyway,” Politis told NewsCorp. “You can’t blame Joseph for the way the team is performing.

“He’s working very hard with all the players to turn things around for our next game.”

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan told Nine they would welcome Suaalii with open arms if the Roosters allowed him to go ahead of time.

“We’d take him straight away,” he told Nine. “We’ve made a good profit this year.

“We’ll make 100 million bucks out of the Lions, we’ll make another $100m out of the World Cup. Everything is heading in the right direction so we could afford to take him now and we’d be delighted to take him earlier if league didn’t want him.”

The Roosters have several players coming off contract, including props Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Matt Lodge, and they are facing a salary cap squeeze given their star-studded roster including Tedesco, Brandon Smith, Luke Keary, Joey Manu, Victor Radley and Angus Crichton are all on lucrative deals and Panthers prop Spencer Leniu on the way.

They have also recruited Newcastle speedster Dominic Young for next year and veteran winger Daniel Tupou is keen to re-sign so they will have options in the outside backs in 2024 if Suaalii goes to rugby earlier than expected.

Canterbury general manager Phil Gould, who controversially said Suaalii should be told by the Roosters a month ago to leave straight away, thought the reports were emerging now as a way of telling the teenager to pull up his socks.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10: Hamish McLennan, Rugby Australia Chairman, poses during the Australia 2027 Rugby World Cup Bid UK Media Briefing at Granger & Co on November 10, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

“The reason I made my comments was, as a code, we didn’t need to be giving them a free kick. He’s made his decision to go to rugby, go to rugby. It’s not anything against him as a player or person or what have you. The Roosters jumped up and down about it. I don’t care,” he said on 100% Footy.

“I would say this is a bit of a wake-up call for him. If this has leaked to the media to be reported, it’s because they want him to be aware of it.”

Tedesco on Monday told reporters the Roosters needed to collectively lift to get the team firing again after winning just two of their past five matches. 

“In previous years since I have come here, we have previously started slow and usually build towards the end of the year,” Tedesco said. 

“But we’re getting pretty far into the year now and we need to score points. 

“Our defence is there, it’s going to keep getting better and better. But our attack, and what our spine is doing … the connectivity, it’s not there.”

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