Australia: Joseph Suaalii treatment ‘nothing short of horrible’ by rugby league side after defecting to union

·3-min read
Joseph Suaalii during a training session Credit: Alamy
Joseph Suaalii during a training session Credit: Alamy

Rugby Australia (RA) chairman Hamish McLennan has once again hit out at the Sydney Roosters over their handling of the Joseph Suaalii situation.

The teenager signed a deal with the governing body in March, reported to be around $1.6m, to play the 15-man code from 2025.

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That has caused consternation within the rugby league circles, leading to Suaalii being caught in the middle of the two sides taking potshots at each other.

Potential for Suaalii to switch earlier

McLennan has never been one to back down and once again couldn’t resist a dig after it emerged that the Roosters are considering the future of the talented 19-year-old.

According to reports in Australia, the NRL side may decide to release the youngster a year early, leading to RA’s chairman saying: “I’m wondering if there’s a salary cap issue at the Roosters?

“Rugby Australia won’t induce Joseph to break his contract, but his agent [Isaac Moses] can deal with that with a good lawyer in about 30 minutes.

“Joey’s treatment [from the Roosters] has also been nothing short of horrible.”

Suaalii’s form has dipped this season but Roosters chairman Nick Politis insists that the reports of him moving on earlier than expected are untrue.

“For starters, you can’t blame Joseph for the way the team is performing,” he said.

“We have no plans to release him at this stage. The final say on recruitment is always with ‘Robbo’ (coach Trent Robinson) anyway.

“He’s working very hard with all the players to turn things around for our next game.”

Head coach Robinson also had his say on the Suaalii saga, echoing the thoughts of Politis.

“Those reports haven’t come from inside this club,” he said. “That’s been speculation (from) outside. It’s not even been a discussion inside this club.”

On McLennan, Robinson added: “He’s doing that for certain reasons. I can imagine rugby people aren’t excited about the way that’s been handled either. There’s usually a bit more class in the discussions and all of that.”

RA target another rugby league star

Rugby Australia are not stopping at Suaalii with McLennan keen on taking more of rugby league’s brightest talents to union.

Brisbane Broncos’ Payne Haas is next on the agenda for the governing body, who are confident of landing the prop.

“I phoned his dad Greg,” McLennan told News Corp. ‘We had a chat about Payne playing rugby.

“He said Payne was really keen and the next steps were that we would catch up when I’m next in Brisbane.”

Brisbane head coach Kevin Walters has contradicted McLennan, however, and believes that Haas will remain at the club and in rugby league.

“We are very comfortable with our position with Payne,” Waters said. “I’m sure he has some options, but I reckon the good option is to stay at the Broncos and win those premierships he is chasing.”

READ MORE: Australia: Rugby league being ‘cry-babies’ over Joseph Suaalii deal

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