Mark Nawaqanitawase in worrying development amid Joseph Suaalii's NRL masterclass against Knights

The Sydney Roosters recruit has been dropped from the NSW Waratahs side.

Sydney Roosters fans had a glimpse into the future this week – and they didn’t like what they saw. The Tricolours will reluctantly wave goodbye to winger Joseph Suaalii at the end of the season and he underlined just what they'll be missing out on with a stand-out performance against Newcastle on Thursday night.

The rugby-bound star produced 19 runs for 195m, four tackle busts and one line break as the injury-hit Roosters held on for a gripping 22-20 victory. Suaalii's dominant display came on the same day the man earmarked to replace him – Mark Nawaqanitawase – was left out of the struggling NSW Waratahs line-up for their Super Rugby Pacific match against the Crusaders on Friday night.

Pictured right Joseph Suaalii and left Mark Nawaqanitawas
As the Sydney Roosters watched Joseph Suaalii star, their new rugby union recruit Mark Nawaqanitawas was dropped by the NSW Waratahs. Image: Getty

Nawaqanitawase, who has signed a two-year deal at the Roosters worth around $900,000, hasn't scored try in seven games and has been well off the pace in general play. Triston Reilly, who spent two years at the Wests Tigers, has been brought in as his replacement.

There is increasing speculation Nawaqanitawase's axing could cost him his Wallaby jumper under new Australia coach Joe Schmidt. Former Wallaby star Tim Horan backed Tahs coach Darren Coleman's call to sack the under-performing winger.

"Mark probably needed a break," Horan said on Stan Sport's The Call Up. "It just looked like the last couple of matches, he wasn't as engaged. This time last year he's running inside of Jake Gordon, outside of Tane Edmed - he's looking for opportunities.


"And I just thought on Saturday night in Canberra (in a loss to the Brumbies), he stayed on the wing more than what I've seen and didn't go looking for a bit of work. He had a couple of opportunities in the second half but hardly touched the ball in the first half.

"So, I think he just needs to take a break mentally and physically and then bounce back the following week." With Suaalii and likely Joey Manu departing the Roosters to take up lucrative rugby contracts next year, the pressure will be on Nawaqanitawase to fill the void.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 22: Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii of the Roosters poses with fans following the round three NRL match between Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs at Allianz Stadium, on March 22, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Roosters fans will wave goodbye to winger Joseph Suaalii at the end of the season as he heads to rugby union.

Mark Nawaqanitawase believes Trent Robinson will bring the best out of him

Being left out of a poorly performing Waratahs side is not a great sign, but the 23-year-old is confident Trent Robinson will bring the best out on him. "I look at what he did for the career of someone like Daniel Tupou," Nawaqanitawase told the Sydney Morning Herald at the time of his signing.

“He was in reserve grade at Parramatta, and now look at where he is with the Roosters. Same with James Tedesco when he came from the Tigers. "He's gone to a completely different level as a footballer under Trent Robinson and I hope that I can learn on and off the field from Trent."