NRL bigwig’s bold claim about Wallabies’ big-money league signing

Jon Wilson
Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii celebrates after scoring a try during the Round 26 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Wests Tigers.

Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii celebrates after scoring a try during the Round 26 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Wests Tigers.

Sydney Roosters chairman Nick Politis has suggested that Rugby Australia’s big-money signing Joseph Suaalii will eventually return to the NRL after recently switching codes to rugby union.

Suaalii has signed a four-year contract, reportedly worth over $10 million with Rugby Australia and the Waratahs, and will attempt to break into the Wallabies squad ahead of the British and Irish Lions tour in 2025.

He is coming back

The 20-year-old star is expected to make an immediate impact in rugby union when he officially makes the switch at the end of the 2024 NRL season but, according to Politis, he won’t stay there long-term.

“Joseph is a good guy, a good kid,” the Roosters chairman told Channel 9.

“It’s sad that we’ve lost him to union, but he tells us he’s coming back in 2028.”

Meanwhile, the NRL is looking to launch a counter-strike by luring union players.

Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has reportedly met with Wallabies wing Mark Nawaqanitawase recently to discuss joining the NRL, and his Waratahs teammate Max Jorgensen is reportedly on the NRL’s radar, too.

They won’t be the only union targets, as NRL CEO Andrew Abdo has suggested implementing salary cap exemptions for code hoppers.

“We want the best athletes playing our game, whether that’s the men’s or women’s competition,” said Abdo.

“Growth is on our agenda, so while our primary focus is developing rugby league talent through our own pathways, we’re also open to attracting and, potentially in some cases, returning to league from other codes.

“Would salary-cap relief be potentially used? Yes. That’s an absolute possibility that the commission will consider and consider in due course.”

Tough year for the Wallabies

It has been a rollercoaster year for the Wallabies, with Eddie Jones taking charge of the side and leading them through their worst-ever World Cup campaign.

They failed to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament for the first time after losing to Fiji and Wales.

“We talk about building trust and connection. We’ve lost a lot of trust with the playing group as well,” said Rugby Australia chief executive Phil Waugh.

“The experience that they had this year with the Wallabies at the World Cup, compared to what they would have envisaged going into the World Cup, might have been very different.

“So it’s really important for us to build a system that’s attractive for them to be a part of. We need to build that trust of the players.”

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