Joseph Suaalii at centre of shock $700k twist after rich rugby deal
The Roosters chairman has responded to the bombshell reports about the rugby-bound star.
Roosters supremo Nick Politis has hit back at reports the NRL club is considering letting Joseph Suaalii leave early for rugby union, with the 19-year-old struggling for form since his bombshell deal was finalised. Suaalii has agreed a three-year deal with Rugby Australia (RA) from 2025 onwards, that is reportedly worth a staggering $1.6 million a year.
Suaalii is still contracted to the Roosters until the end of the 2024 season but reports have emerged this week that the Tri Colours were considering an early release to free up around $700,000 from their salary cap. NRL 360 host Braith Anasta revealed on Monday night that Roosters officials were growing increasingly concerned about the 19-year-old's form.
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It comes after Nine's Danny Weidler reported that the Roosters were considering letting Suaalii leave one year early, with RA boss Hamish McLennan already confirming that the 15-man code could afford to take the 19-year-old next year if he became available. However, Roosters chairman Politis insists there are no plans at this stage to release Suaalii before his current contract ends.
“For starters you can’t blame Joseph for the way the team is performing,” Politis told News Corp. “We have no plans to release him at this stage. The final say on recruitment is always with ‘Robbo’ (coach Trent Robinson) anyway. He’s working very hard with all the players to turn things around for our next game.”
Fox League’s James Hooper said he had also heard whispers from the Roosters camp about the prospect of an early release for Suaalii. “I think those conversations are going on at the Roosters’ headquarters at the moment," he said on NRL 360.
“He’s been poor for the last month. He had one good game off the back of the big announcement that he was going to go and join Rugby Australia but given the way Roosters like to do business I think they’d be looking at that as an investment and going ‘well he’s not performing, he’s on strong coin.
"We’ve got to try and keep Jared (Waerea-Hargreaves) and there’s other pieces of the puzzles as well. I think absolutely he’d be a good chance of leaving.”
Phil Gould labels it a 'wake-up call' for Joseph Suaalii
Bulldogs supremo and Nine commentator Phil Gould - who famously said Suaalii should leave the NRL immediately after signing the rugby deal - insisted the reports about the Roosters exploring an early release should serve as a "wake-up call" for the star.
"The reason I made my comments was, as a code, we didn't need to be giving them a free kick, he made his decision to go to rugby, (then) go to rugby," Gould said on Nine's 100% Footy. "That's not anything against him as a player or person ... Roosters jumped up and down about it, I don't care.
"I would say this is a little bit of a wake-up call for him," he said. I'd say if this has been leaked out to the media to be reported, it's because they want him to be aware of it."
Concerns around Suaalii's form come after a lacklustre start to the season that's seen him score only just one try for the eighth-placed Roosters across their first nine games. Anasta and NRL 360 co-host Paul Kent also claimed that the manner in which he agreed to the rugby deal has ruffled more than a few feathers at the Roosters.
“I think a big thing here is not only his performances on the field, but the way the deal was done and the way he’s exiting the club was not done in the right way,” Anasta said. His co-host Kent said he believed the Roosters were irked about the way his defection to rugby panned out.
“There’s a suspicion at the Roosters that the rugby deal was worked out before he signed his last deal (a one-year extension with the Roosters)... Which has irked them a little bit," Kent said. “I wouldn’t say they’re not speaking or anything like that but they’re certainly not happy, the Roosters.”
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