The Sydney Roosters are reportedly growing in confidence that young gun Joseph Suaalii will remain with the club, despite signing a whopping $5 million contract to switch to rugby union earlier this year.
A remark from Roosters chairman Nick Politis that the 20-year old prodigy has told the club he is ‘coming back in 2028’ in an interview with Channel 9 has fanned rumours Suaalii’s deal with Rugby Australia will be scrapped, with a report from the Sydney Morning Herald and rugby league journalist Danny Weidler suggesting key powerbrokers are getting ‘cold feet’.
According to Weidler, the Roosters’ attitude towards Suaalii’s impending departure has changed dramatically in recent months, with coach Trent Robinson reportedly playing a key role in discussions with the young gun in an emotional conversation mid-season that helped turn his floundering form around.
“There is no question that many at the Roosters had lost faith in the player. The only one who stayed in his corner the whole time was coach Trent Robinson,” Weidler wrote.
“It was an emotional heart-to-heart with Robinson some weeks ago which turned Suaalii’s life and career around.
“Suaalii got a lot off his chest and shed a few tears when talking to his coach. The pressure of his situation certainly got to him, which is understandable given his young age and the scrutiny he was under. He expressed regret at the way things had unfolded and his form had dipped, and left the meeting with the weight lifted from his shoulders.”
Should the deal go ahead, the 2024 season will be the last for Suaalii before switching codes to play for the NSW Waratahs – and most likely the Wallabies as well – on a three-year contract.
However, Politis has suggested the code-switch will not be permanent, with Suaalii to return to the Roosters at the end of 2027 once his RA deal expires.
“It’s sad that we’ve lost him to union, but he tells us he’s coming back in 2028,” Politis told Channel 9 recently.
It has been reported but denied by RA that the code’s next broadcast contract could be required to provide crucial funds for the Suaalii deal.