Andrew Johns makes shock call on James Tedesco's future at Roosters
The Roosters are facing a very tricky situation regarding James Tedesco and Joseph Suaalii.
NRL legend Andrew Johns has made the bold prediction that the Roosters will choose Joseph Suaalii over captain James Tedesco amid an awkward scenario developing at the club. Suaalii re-signed with the Roosters for one more season this week, meaning he and Tedesco will both be off contract at the end of 2024.
Suaalii and his management haven't been shy about the fact he wants to play fullback and sees his long-term future in the No.1 jersey. However the Roosters already have the NSW and Australia captain at the back, with Suaalii forced to bide his time at wing and centre.
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Tedesco is still only 30 and will likely be looking for one more contract before retiring, putting the Roosters in an extremely tricky position amid poaching raids on Suaalii from rival clubs and codes. The Bondi club will be desperate to lock-up Suaalii on a long-term deal, with the 19-year-old widely regarded as one of the best prospects in the game with a huge future ahead of him. Rugby Australia have also been chasing his signature and reportedly offered him a five-year deal worth $10 million before he opted to stay at the Roosters for 2024.
The writing appears to be on the wall for Tedesco, who might be searching for a new club for 2025. Speaking on the 'Immortal Behaviour' podcast on Friday, Johns said he thinks the Roosters will choose Suaalii over Tedesco.
" I have no idea (how they'll manage it), but the top clubs make the tough decisions," Johns said. "Me personally, I would keep Teddy on for a while, but we'll see. The really top teams manage it well and they move the player a year before their use-by date, so there's some big decisions to make on Teddy."
Johns said Tedesco can actually stay in his prime into his mid-30s due to a number of injuries he suffered earlier in his career. The Newcastle Knights legend said he reckons Tedesco's body is actually relatively fresh for a 30-year-old due to the number of games he missed. However the Roosters fullback has suffered a number of concussions in recent years and is no guarantee to be able to stay on the field long-term.
Roosters unhappy with James Tedesco's management?
The saga took a big twist this week when the Roosters were reportedly put off by Tedesco's management. Leading NRL writer Andrew Webster told SEN radio that the Roosters weren't happy about being 'bullied' into extending Tedesco's contract.
“They’ve got a really interesting situation off the field with Tedesco and Suaalii,” Webster said. “Joseph Suaalii has triggered his option for 2024 but that means both him and James Tedesco will be coming off contract at the same time.
“James Tedesco’s management have been pushing the Roosters for the last few months to get an extra year on his contract, that hasn’t gone down particularly well with Roosters management. Particularly Nick Politis who doesn’t like getting bullied into triggering contracts, particularly when the player is very well paid.
“The salary cap makes clubs work in advance about what their future is going to look like, but this is a very tricky one. They’ve got arguably the best fullback in the game, in James Tedesco and arguably the best future fullback in the game in Joseph Suaalii. If they get forced to choose in the next year it’s going to be a very tricky one for the club to handle.”
The Roosters have a bit of form in managing tricky situations similar to this one. They had to decide what to do with Anthony Minichiello when Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was coming through, with Minichiello eventually deciding to retire in 2015.
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