Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Joseph Manu has been the name on everyone’s lips recently as a bidding war brews for his services in 2023, with the Titans and Broncos displaying interest. However, the club that has seemingly made their intentions known the most are the New Zealand Warriors.
The Daily Telegraph’s Paul Crawley reported in February that the Warriors were looking at Manu as a possible replacement for the outgoing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck at fullback, with talks around this move ramping up when The Australian’s Brent Read revealed in late July that the Warriors had made contact with the Sydney Roosters and let their intentions be known that they would be putting an offer in front of the New Zealand international on November 1st.
It is believed that the offer to Manu would be in the realm of a $1 million per-season and that the Warriors intend for him to play at five-eighth, although one would expect this to depend on Reece Walsh’s development and whether he finds himself shifting to the halves from fullback.
Going all-in on Manu is an understandable move for New Zealand to make from an on-field standpoint, as the 25-year-old has excelled in the centre, fullback and five-eighth positions; however, it is quite a bold move that could end up going against the Warriors due to several factors.
— NRL on Nine (@NRLonNine) August 12, 2021
One of those factors is that they are seemingly going to have to contend with other NRL clubs trying to persuade Manu to join their team.
Another is the Hamilton native’s current club the Sydney Roosters, who very much intend to keep Manu beyond 2022 and have proven in the past that world-class players are willing to take less money to stay at one of Australia’s most successful and foremost sporting franchises, but the biggest reason as to why the Warriors are a real chance of missing out on the signature of one of the best players in the NRL is the upcoming Rugby World Cup in 2023.
Like Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Manu has publicly expressed his desire to one day represent the New Zealand All Blacks at a Rugby World Cup, and while Union sides would likely not be able to offer the two-time premiership winner the same money as the Warriors, the dream of representing arguably the best side in Rugby on the biggest stage could very much be enough to sway him to Rugby Union.