The Dragons are set to table an audacious $5 million mega-deal for Roosters centre Joey Manu as Shane Flanagan looks for a star player to build a team around. The Sydney Morning Herald reports Flanagan is offering the New Zealand representative the fullback role if he moves to the Dragons.
Manu is one of 160 players who are free to negotiate with rival clubs for 2025 and beyond as they come off contract in 2024. The Dragons offer will work out to be a massive $1.2 million per season over four years, a deal that would make Manu one of the highest-paid players in the NRL.
'WHERE I WANT TO PLAY': Zac Lomax makes big call on position switch
PLOT THICKENS: League great's staggering call on Papenhuyzen saga
Flanagan has the option of Tyrell Sloan and Zac Lomax at fullback but Manu would no doubt take the side to the next level. “From what I see when he (Manu) plays fullback, his involvement is enormous. I think he could make a real fist of it,” Flanagan said.
“I’d love to have him, but I just don’t know if he’s going to move. In the end, it’s not us, it’s not the Roosters, it’s just what Joey wants to do. I know he loves the Roosters, I know Nick (Roosters chairman Nick Politis) loves him. Does he want to leave and have a crack at fullback? He obviously won’t get to play too much there.”
If Manu wants to make the move to fullback, Tedesco stands in his way at the Roosters and even if the skipper was to go down with an injury, Joseph Suaalii would likely step into the role in 2024. The Roosters do, however, see Manu as the long-term replacement for Tedesco as Suaalii moves to Rugby Union in 2025 on a $5 million three-year mega deal.
Manu was pursued by the Warriors last time he came off contract as they looked to replace fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who made the switch to rugby union. On that occasion Manu turned down the chance to become a starting fullback, choosing to stay loyal to the Tri-colours.
Manu has scored 59 tries in 158 NRL games for the Roosters since making his debut in 2016 and has won two premierships with the club in 2018 and 2019.
Dragons return early to pre-season training
Zac Lomax revealed while he and the squad were not due back in training until late November, the senior playing group decided to return early to set an example for the younger team members to follow. “I think I was meant to go back at the back end of November, but I would have just been at home doing nothing," Lomax said on The Bye Round with James Graham.
"My date originally was the back end of November, but all the other boys are going in. I have got Blocker and Birdy to come back in with me. Big Franky Molo and his brother Mickey and Jaydn Su’A, so we have got a few boys coming back it will be good.”
Graham believes it is a promising sign that the senior players are going back to training early. “I think that is a really positive sign for the Red V that you have got that senior group that are wanting to go back in earlier and get the work done and get an understanding because there is going to be a big change,” Graham said.
“It sends a message to everyone at the club that you mean business if you guys go in on day one. Yeah there is some players that need the rest and rightly so and sometimes less is more, but even just being around the club. I think it is a strong message that you are sending.”
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.