Australia’s brightest young NRL star is set to sensationally ABANDON the code to play for the Wallabies in one of rugby union’s biggest coups in decades
- Wallabies have targeted young NRL stars
- Now the code has reportedly poached one
- Code switch will be a massive hit to the NRL
Roosters superstar in the making Joseph Suaalii is set to take up a $1.6million deal to defect from league to rugby union in 2025, it has been reported.
The move will likely see the 19-year-old fast-tracked into the Wallabies team once his NRL contract is up at the end of next year, with the national side due to play the British and Irish Lions in two years.
Suaalii’s reported move was foreshadowed earlier in the week when it emerged that his manager Isaac Moses had renewed his accreditation with Rugby Australia.
Now the Roosters are resigned to losing their current starting centre, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Suaalii (pictured against the New Zealand Warriors in round two this year) will reportedly send shockwaves through the NRL by switching codes to rugby union
Wallabies coach Eddie Jones (pictured) has made no secret of his desire to poach some of the best young talents in the NRL – and Suaalii fits that bill like few others
Suaalii grew up playing rugby union and excelled in the sport during his time at Sydney’s exclusive King’s School, where he was spotted by NRL scouts while playing fullback.
Originally signed to South Sydney, he penned a contract with the Roosters in 2019 and rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns soon branded him a generational talent.
His likely defection to rugby union will be the biggest coup for the code since the likes of NRL superstars Wendell Sailor, Mat Rogers and – most recently – Israel Folau switched to the 15-a-side game and went on to forge strong careers with the Wallabies.
Eddie Jones, who returned as Wallabies coach last year, has made no secret of his desire to poach some of the best young talents in the NRL, with Rabbitohs skipper Cameron Murray on his hit list in addition to Suaalii.
The 19-year-old (pictured playing Souths) first attracted the attention of NRL scouts when he excelled as a fullback in schoolboy rugby union
The young star reportedly wanted to play his preferred fullback position at the Roosters, creating drama for the club due to the fact that James Tedesco – who recently extended his contract with the Tricolours – is rated possibly the best No.1 in the game.
Former Broncos star Karmichael Hunt – who rocked rugby league when he defected to the AFL before trying his hand at union – said he believed Suaalii was more likely than Murray to make the switch, and now it looks like he has been proven right.
The towering outside back made his NRL debut against Brisbane in 2021, aged just 17, after getting a special dispensation from the governing body to play at such a young age.
He quickly stamped himself as one of the game’s top young talents and was selected to represent Samoa at last year’s World Cup, helping the underdog outfit make a fairytale run to the final before losing to Australia.