Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Sydney Roosters winger Joseph Suaalii’s future in Rugby League is currently in jeopardy with the 19-year-old reportedly receiving a multi-million dollar offer from Rugby Australia.
The Penrith native is arguably the hottest prospect in Australian sport today as he boasts a level of skill and athleticism that surpasses most of his age.
It will certainly be tough for the NRL to hold onto Suaalii and even harder for the Roosters to keep him at the club, with a huge sacrifice needing to possibly be made for the tricolours to keep their star.
James Tedesco has been the focal point of the Roosters success since 2018 with the fullback having won two premierships with the club and the Dally M Medal in 2019.
However, Suaalii’s former mentor Steve Nasteski, who originally brought the Samoan International to the South Sydney Rabbitohs as a 12-year-old, believes that the Roosters will have to part ways with Tedesco to have any chance of keeping Suaalii.
“Tedesco is a once-in-a-generation player, but Joseph is once in a lifetime. He is going to be the Michael Jordan of the NRL.” said Nasteski in an interview with Danny Weidler for The Sydney Morning Herald.
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— Danny Weidler (@Danny_Weidler) September 3, 2022
“I told him [Suaalii] when he went to the Roosters his pathway would be blocked. Teddy is the first choice, and maybe Manu is the second. Joseph will be better than both of those guys. Manu can play anywhere, but as good as Teddy is I think it’s fullback or nothing. So I think the Roosters will need to move Teddy on next year,”
While moving Tedesco on would likely keep Suaalii at the Roosters it would also be a big risk that could go severely wrong.
As talented as Suaalii is he is untested at fullback in the NRL and could struggle to perform in the role at first while Tedesco has arguably been the NRL’s best player over the past half-decade and is an experienced head at fullback, not to mention he is the Roosters captain.
For Trent Robinson and Nick Politis to possibly be comfortable with moving Tedesco on they would also have to restructure Suaalii’s contract to ensure that he doesn’t defect to Rugby Union or move to another club.
Suaalii is currently contracted to the Roosters for the next two seasons but has a player option that he is yet to activate for both 2023 and 2024.
If the Roosters were to sacrifice Tedesco for Suaalii then it’s a no-brainer that they would first renegotiate with the outside back and remove all player options from his deal.