Joey Manu delivers more bad news to Sydney Roosters as NRL star makes call on 2025 return

The Kiwi star has shot down suggestions he'll be back in the NRL as soon as next year.

Joey Manu has put to bed any thought he'll be back in the NRL as soon as next year, revealing he wants to give rugby union more than six months. The Roosters centre will leave the NRL at the end of the 2024 season to take up a deal with Japanese rugby club Toyota Verblitz.

There had been suggestions the move would only be a short-term thing and that Manu could be back playing for the Roosters in 2025. In theory, the Kiwi star could return to the Roosters next June because the final for Japanese Rugby One is played in late May in Tokyo.

Joey Manu in action for the Sydney Roosters in the NRL.
Joey Manu is heading to Japanese rugby at the end of the 2024 NRL season. Image: Getty

But the 27-year-old put that theory to bed on Wednesday, saying he wants to give his rugby union career a bit longer than six months. "I highly, highly doubt it," he said when asked if he could be back at the Roosters in 2025.

"Maybe somewhere longer (down the road). I probably need a little bit more than six months over there. Going to Japan is a good experience for myself and my family. Just enjoying something different.

"Six months over there is just learning the game. That's the next step that I want to take. I really want to do my best in rugby union. I feel like I'll need a bit longer than six months. But we'll see how it goes."

With Joseph Suaalii also leaving at the end of the season to join the NSW Waratahs, the Roosters have gone from having three gun fullback options to just one. Manu and Suaalii both see fullback as their best position, but James Tedesco has been occupying the No.1 jersey for the last few years.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Joey Manu.
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Joey Manu in action for the Roosters. Image: Getty


Luke Keary (retirement) and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (England) are also departing at season's end, but Manu said they hadn't spent much time speaking about their collective exits, or the added motivation of winning a premiership in 2024. Part of Manu's decision to switch to rugby is undoubtedly the chance to play for the All Blacks at the World Cup in Australia in 2027.

He will likely have a better picture of his All Blacks hopes by next June, but in order to be picked for New Zealand he has to be playing in the Super Rugby competition in Australia and NZ. His stint in Japanese rugby shapes as a great chance to impress potential Super Rugby suitors.

The 27-year-old also admitted on Wednesday it hadn't sunk in yet that he'll be leaving the Roosters within the next four months after first playing for the club's junior sides in 2013. "It's going to be different. I've been here for 10 years ... But I've just got to enjoy every day (left)," he said.

"I don't really have a plan (on whether I'll back in the NRL) to be honest. I'm just going to go over there and try my best, give it a crack. Just ride the wave. I'm not too sure where I end up. But obviously this club means a lot to me. Hopefully somewhere down the line I'll come back here."

with AAP