Roosters coach Trent Robinson has played down talks that Joey Manu may be lured to the Dragons under the promise he will be given the fullback position at the club. Manu is one of almost 200 NRL players who entered free agency on November 1, with the players free to negotiate with other clubs as they enter the last year of their contracts.
Shane Flanagan's Dragons are reportedly set to table a $5 million mega-deal for Manu, believing they can sway the Roosters star to join by offering him the No.1 jersey, something he is unlikely to get any time soon at the tricolours. Yet Robinson is confident the Kiwi international is happy in Sydney and will stay put even if it means taking less money and not playing fullback.
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“I've seen the commentary around that (Dragons’ reported offer to Manu),” Robinson told SEN 1170 The Run Home. “The first thing is, the conversation with his manager has been ongoing, we’re pretty comfortable with where they’re at. Joey is a Rooster, I don’t expect him to go anywhere.”
The Sydney Morning Herald reports the Dragons are set to table a $1.2million a season, four-year deal, that would make Manu one of the NRL's most expensive assets. Robinson, however, doesn't believe the Red V has even been in talks with Manu and thinks they put out the impending $5million offer as a way to get his attention.
“(Flanagan) is really trying to rebuild the Dragons and that’s really their prerogative,” Robinson said. “But I feel like they’ve thrown that out to get in touch with (Manu’s) manager. I don’t think those discussions have been had at all.”
Flanagan is searching for an X-factor and believes Manu is that player. The new Dragons coach has the options of Tyrell Sloan and Zac Lomax at fullback but believes Manu would 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, with Suaalii moving to Rugby Union in 2025 on a $5 million, three-year mega deal.
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However, leading NRL journalist Phil Rothfield reported last month that there were "doubts" about whether Suaalii would honour his rugby deal. “I’ve reached out to Isaac Moses who manages Joseph Suaalii, he’s not taking calls or text messages,” Rothfield said on the Big Sports Breakfast.
“But I’m hearing that you know, Suaalii, will his deal be in doubt now? Does he really want to leave a powerhouse club like the Roosters? A future in the NRL or go over and get belted? I know the British and Irish Lions are coming over here in a few years and the home World Cup. But I would not at all be surprised if they start investigating how to get out of that contract. This is a massive, massive story.”
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