James Tedesco re-signs with Sydney Roosters amid Joseph Suaalii drama

The Sydney Roosters appear to have their future with James Tedesco and Joseph Suaalii sorted.

James Tedesco, pictured here in action for the Sydney Roosters.
James Tedesco is reportedly set to extend his stay at the Sydney Roosters. Image: Getty

James Tedesco has signed a one-year contract extension at the Sydney Roosters in a move that appears to be aimed at shoring up Joseph Suaalii's future at the club. The Roosters are facing an awkward situation with 30-year-old Tedesco and 19-year-old phenom Suaalii, with the latter wanting to take over the fullback role.

The Roosters already have the NSW and Australia captain in the No.1 jersey, but Suaalii is the long-term option at fullback and widely regarded as the best prospect in the game right now. Tedesco and Suaalii were previously under contract until the end of 2024, but the Roosters announced on Tuesday that Tedesco had extended his deal for one more year.

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The extension would appear to be Tedesco's final contract before he retires, which would see Suaalli take over the fullback role in 2026. “I’m proud to lead this club and I’ve enjoyed my career here at the Roosters so far," he said. "We’re a close group and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the team we have here to add to the Roosters’ rich history."

Leading journalist Phil Rothfield said on Monday night on NRL 360: “At that time (2026) he will be 33 years of age. I presume that will be Teddy’s last year.

“It leaves the door open for Joseph Suaalii if he is prepared to remain patient to take over in that fullback jersey in 2026. But great news for the Roosters. I think they wanted to take the sting out of the story of the competition between two players and they have done that to a degree by extending Teddy today.”

Suaalii has been heavily courted by Rugby Australia, who reportedly offered him a five-year, $10 million deal to switch codes. He recently extended his own deal with the Roosters until the end of 2024, leaving his options open.

Tedesco re-signing appears to be the Roosters' way of showing Suaalii what his future looks like in the NRL, indicating the teenager will need to bide his time in the centres before taking over as fullback in 2026.

Joseph Suaalii, pictured here in action for the Roosters against the Warriors.
Joseph Suaalii in action for the Roosters against the Warriors. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Tedesco was adamant he can co-exist with Suaalii in a star-studded Roosters back-line. "One hundred per cent. I don't think anyone wants to leave the club. Especially myself, I want to stay for as long as I can," he said.

"Having guys like Suaalii and Joey Manu outside me, our spine is pretty dangerous for our team. And if we can get us all together playing for many years to come, I think it is really beneficial for the club."

Tedesco added: "Of course I want to finish my career here but there is no rush. I have two years left on my contract, I am happy with where I am at at the moment. I'm enjoying my career here so far at the Roosters."

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On NRL 360, Rothfield said he believes the contract extension for Tedesco gives Suaalii more clarity and will allow the Roosters to sign the 19-year-old to a longer deal. “By locking up Joseph Suaalii last week on that one-year option, it bought the Roosters 12 months to sit down with him and his agent and make a long-term strategy,” Rothfield said. “They have bought themselves 12 months to sit down with Joseph and work on a long-term deal, before rugby union have another serious crack at him.”

Paul Kent added: "There is a 12-month extension Suaalii is going to have to find where he is going to have to bide his time for 12 more months in the centres. But if that is definitely Tedesco’s end point, which we don’t know, but that is the indication, that would suggest it can’t be too long a wait.

“It is not like he is sitting there thinking it could be four or five years and he actually misses his peak period as a player. The flip side to that too is if it is going to be Tedesco’s last season then there is going to be cash freed up for when they talk about extending Suaalii, there will be cash there left behind from Tedesco retiring.”

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