Teenage rugby league sensation Joseph Suaalii has been given a brutal reality check after his extraordinary contract demands left South Sydney with little choice but to give up hopes of keeping hold of the 17-year-old.
Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett said on Wednesday that he couldn't see Suaalii at the club next season, despite the fact he has been offered a three-year deal.
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The sticking point between the club and player centres around a series of clauses that Suaalii wants inserted into a five-year deal with the Bunnies.
Channel Nine league reporter Danny Weidler revealed details of the youngster's "remarkable" contract demands this week.
“It’s a little bit complicated but he wants an upgraded deal for 2021, and then for 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025 to be at Souths,” Weidler said on Channel Nine’s 100% Footy.
“But 2022, 2023 and 2024 he wants get-out clauses in his favour.”
❗BREAKING❗— NRL on Nine (@NRLonNine) September 14, 2020
Teen sensation Joseph Suaalii's negotiations with South Sydney are getting complicated.🤔🤔
The juggling act of deciding on rugby or league continues for the prodigy!🏉
Stream 100% Footy: STREAM: https://t.co/qROuZdXPWL#9WWOS #NRL pic.twitter.com/fS01DhDRvr
Souths are refusing to accept what would be an extraordinary situation for any player - let alone one who hasn't played a single game in the NRL.
The contract stand-off means Suaalii could very well be lost to league, with rugby union another option for the Kings schoolboy star.
Speaking on NRL 360 on Wednesday night, co-host Kent labelled Suaalii's demands "ridiculous," hitting out at the player and his management in a fiery spray.
“They (South Sydney) are being held to ransom,” Kent said.
“Good on South Sydney and Wayne Bennett for taking the stance that they are.
“The clauses are ridiculous. The clauses are in his favour that if he wants a release then he gets it.
“That means Souths can’t do a good deal. They simply can’t do a good deal under those circumstances.
“If he is earning his money he is going to want more and if he is not earning his money he will keep his job and stay where he is at.
“It is a silly clause by a naive manager and good on South Sydney because the fact is the game will not be any lesser for not having Joseph Suaalii.”
Suaalii advisors under fire
Fox League reporter James Hooper said the advice being given to the teenager could ultimately come back to bite him.
“He needs to be a bit careful here this young man,” Hooper said.
“He is only 17 and we need to point that out, but he is clearly getting bad advice because asking for that type of ridiculous arrangement where you can get out at any time you want.
“Everybody knows the Wallabies have been chasing him as mad as anything because they are desperate to sign a decent player. It is fraught with danger.
“Sam Burgess never had a get-out clause in his contract and neither did Greg Inglis. I’m pretty sure Clive Churchill wouldn’t have.
“This is one of rugby league’s most famous clubs and the way that this young bloke and the people that are advising him and conducting themselves... it is poor form.”
While Bennett refused to completely rule out Suaalii staying with the Rabbitohs, the veteran coach said there was no way a deal could be done under the current proposals.
"I don't think either parties have closed the door, but certainly at this point in time he is not coming here," Bennett said.
"We've been keen on him for 12 to 18 months and it just hasn't worked out.
"There are a lot of things going on for him so they will come back with conditions, it may not be final yet but it certainly is from our point of view at the moment."