Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Since the start of 2021 rumours have circulated as to where Roosters centre Joseph Manu will eventually end up.
He is off-contract at the end of next season, which means from November 1st this year he is free to negotiate with rival clubs.
There have been a few clubs believed to be interested in his services, with the Wests Tigers reportedly looking to bring him in, likely to remain as a centre as the club already has an established fullback and five-eighth in Daine Laurie and Adam Doueihi.
Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Dolphins have all also been linked with wanting to bring Manu up north, with the Broncos likely to play him at fullback if they can get their hands on him, the Titans to play him in the centres and where Manu would play at the Dolphins would depend on who the club has already signed.
However, the favourites to sign Joseph Manu at this point are the New Zealand Warriors, with the 25-year-old even discussing a potential move to the club when speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald about a permanent shift to fullback in February.
“The games I’ve played at fullback, I’ve really enjoyed,” Manu said.
“It’s a tough position but it’s exciting for me and I can get my hands on the ball more and be around the ball.
“Obviously you have to be a lot fitter for that position.
“If it’s soon or in the future, I think fullback would be a position I’d like to take on. But this year and next year I’m at the Roosters and I’ll definitely be playing centre with ‘Teddy’ [Tedesco] there.
“If a club approaches me once I’m off contract, I’d look at it, definitely.
“I’ve heard a bit around [the Warriors’ interest], but I can’t meet with them or negotiate with them.
“I guess I’ll see how I go this year and see what happens. I have seen there’s been a bit of talk there, Roger is a big loss for the Warriors.”
The Roosters are rumoured to have offered Manu a rich contract extension which he is yet to sign, suggesting the Hamilton native will be testing his worth on the open market.
Paul Momirovski has also recently signed a three-year deal to return to the club, which could be a telling sign the Roosters know they won’t be holding onto Manu.
On top of the Momirovski signing, the Roosters all have centres Billy Smith and Joseph Suaalii in their ranks, who have both played first grade and are touted as having big futures in the game, and Adam Keighran who was one of the club’s breakout stars in 2021.
This puts the Warriors in prime position to sign Manu, who they will reportedly be putting a big-money contract in front of on November 1st when he is free to negotiate with rival clubs.
With the rise of young gun Reece Walsh at fullback though, New Zealand will likely be looking at playing him in the halves alongside recent re-signing Shaun Johnson.