Joseph Suaalii staying at Sydney Roosters in staggering $2m rejection

The 19-year-old is reportedly set to stick with the Roosters for the 2024 season.

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

Joseph Suaalii is reportedly poised to re-sign with the Sydney Roosters for the 2024 NRL season after shunning big-money offers from the South Sydney Rabbitohs and Rugby Australia. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Suaalii's management will inform the Roosters that he's activating a player option in his contract to remain in Bondi in 2024.

It means he will be back on the free agent market for the 2025 season and beyond. Rugby Australia have been chasing the 19-year-old's signature, keen on making him a cross-code star with the Wallabies.

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The Rabbitohs were also thought to be interested in luring Suaalii to Redfern - and reportedly offered him more money to do so. According to Danny Weidler of Channel 9, Suaalii will make around $700,000 with the Roosters in 2024.

The Rabbitohs reportedly offered him around $2 million more - $800,000 in 2024, $900,000 in 2015 and $1 million in 2026. South Sydney were chasing Suaalii as a potential replacement for fullback Latrell Mitchell, before he re-signed with the club last year.

The Rabbitohs' offer pales in comparison to what Rugby Australia are willing to offer up for Suaalii's services. Reports last year stated that RA had offered the teenager a whopping $10 million deal over five years.

His decision to stay at the Roosters for one more year isn't a death knell in RA's plans however, with the Rugby World Cup coming up in 2027. It is therefore possible that Suallii will be wearing the gold Wallabies jersey in four years' time.

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RA has identified a number of NRL superstars that they'd like to poach, with Rabbitohs captain Cameron Murray also at the top of the list. Other potential targets include Manly speedster Toluta'u Koula and Parramatta centre Will Penisini.

"I’m not concerned because why would you want to leave the greatest game of all for another game?” Rugby league boss Peter V’landys told AAP in January when asked if he was concerned about NRL players jumping ship to rugby. "There is more to it than money. There is also enjoyment and the quality. We’ve got the greatest game of all - people will always want to play the greatest game of all.

"(Any player who leaves league for union) can take their mobile phone with them on the field because they’ve got 20 minutes to tweet, Instagram or TikTok. We wish (Wallabies coach) Eddie (Jones) the best of luck, and I hope he’s got his mobile phone with him so he can fill that 30 minutes as well."

Joseph Suaalii, pictured here in action for the Roosters against the Dolphins.
Joseph Suaalii in action for the Roosters against the Dolphins. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Suaalii's decision to re-sign with the Roosters comes after they nabbed Dominic Young from the Knights and Spencer Leniu from the Panthers last week. The signing news left Gorden Tallis questioning how the Roosters continue to fit big-name players under their salary cap.

“There’s an elephant in the room, they keep on signing players and I don’t know how, it’s a running joke but I just don’t know how," the Broncos great said last week. "You can’t keep saying it’s a culture and they want to play Roosters football, it’s rugby league, it’s always been rugby league, they just want to get paid more money to play the same game.”

It also emerged last week that the Roosters had applied to the NRL for salary cap relief due to the absence of Angus Crichton. The star back-rower will reportedly miss at least the first 10 weeks of the season after being diagnosed with bipolar.

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