Trent Robinson rips Phil Gould over 'ridiculous' claim about Joseph Suaalii

The Sydney Roosters coach has fired back at suggestions from the Bulldogs supremo.

Trent Robinson, pictured here alongside Phil Gould.
Trent Robinson has shut down Phil Gould's suggestion for Joseph Suaalii to leave the NRL immediately. Image: Getty

Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has responded to calls from Phil Gould for Joseph Suaalii to leave the NRL for rugby union immediately. Suaalii will link up with the NSW Waratahs at the end of the 2024 NRL season after signing a three-year deal with Rugby Australia worth $1.6 million per season.

The 19-year-old will still be playing NRL for the next two seasons, but according to Gould he might as well leave now. In a scathing rant on Channel 9 on Monday night, Gould said: “Every time he scores a try. Every time he does something in our game, people are going to refer to the fact that he’s going to rugby.

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“Why do we need that? Go now. Don’t let the door hit you on the arse on the way out. Go. Go now. Gone. He’s made his decision. You sign a contract for rugby 18 months before his league contract ends.

“You can’t sign with any other rugby league club in that time. He can only sign somewhere else. He’s made his decision. I have nothing against the kid. I’ve loved having him in the NRL. He’s a tremendous athlete and is great for the game. But he’s decided to be a rugby player. Bye bye. Off you go.”

On Wednesday, Robinson shot down Gould's comments and described them as 'ridiculous'. "He can stick to his turf and we'll stick to ours and how we want to deal with it," Robinson said.

"It showed a fair bit of a fear, for me, about another code. Lots of players sign a year out. Coaches go between rugby union and rugby league. To come out against Joey, as a 19-year-old, showed a fair bit of fear.

"He'll be here, those conversations are really clear between Joseph and myself and the club. There's no desire from (rugby) to get him out early, either."

Robinson said Suaalii's move had neither surprised nor upset him, but the teenager would be welcome back at the Roosters at any time in the future. "His decision to move in 2025, that's his decision. I was pretty relaxed," he said.

"I didn't think Joey was going to be a 10-year player, I thought he would often play for the Roosters but I also knew his desire to play different levels, different sports. I know he's a Rooster and he's quite clear on that. Really supportive and happy with the process from our point of view."

Joseph Suaalii, pictured here in action for the Sydney Roosters in the NRL.
Joseph Suaalii in action for the Sydney Roosters in the NRL. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Trent Robinson calls for calm amid NRL-rugby war

Rugby Australia is also reportedly targeting former schoolboy talents such as Cameron Murray, Tolu Koula and Will Penisini, while Nathan Cleary on Tuesday left the door ajar for a potential code switch in his future.

But Robinson has called for calm in NRL circles, saying: "We're going to have a great competition, always. This is the pinnacle of any rugby competition in the world. So stay cool, relax.

"We're always going to attract players that want to be their best, that want to be at the height of the game. We've got 17 teams of such a great competition. That's the calmness I guess that says we're going to produce players.

"Don't come out with fearful comments about other codes and all of that. Respect both sides of it, enjoy parts of their game, but stand tall on what our game is."

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