Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Nelson Asofa-Solomona recently made headlines for his stance on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and the impact that would have on his ability to take part in the 2022 NRL season.
His side the Melbourne Storm have had multiple opportunities to part ways with the forward but have stuck loyal to their man in the hope that he would change his mind.
It now seems that Asofa-Solomona will part ways with the Storm regardless and the NRL for that matter, as Christy Doran from Fox Sports is reporting that the New Zealand International will switch codes to Rugby Union and join a Japanese Rugby club in 2023.
“It can be revealed two-time NRL premiership Storm prop and New Zealand international Nelson Asofa-Solomona is set to join the Japanese League One competition ahead of the 2023 season,” said Doran.
“It is understood he will join Japanese powerhouse Panasonic Wild Knights, who are mentored by former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.
“Asofa-Solomona, 25, has essentially been frozen out of the Storm because he is unvaccinated and by law, any player in Victoria must be vaccinated.
“Japan however has no such mandates in society and therefore is the perfect haven for someone who does not want to be vaccinated.”
If Asofa-Solomona does opt to make the switch to Rugby Union then he would be eligible for selection by the All Blacks for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France; however, it is unlikely he would be selected after a single season in the fifteen-a-side game.
There is no doubt that the 25-year-old would be a huge loss to Rugby League, but unfortunately, his vaccination stance will prohibit him from consistently playing in 2022.
Melbourne’s captain Jesse Bromwich is still holding out hope that his teammate will have a change of heart.
“I’m very hopeful ‘NAS’ will come back,” said Bromwich.
“He’s a powerful man and a big part of our team.
“A lot of us boys care deeply for him and I’ve tried to reach out to him, but I didn’t get anything back.”
It seems we may have seen the last of Nelson Asofa Solomona in the NRL.