Rugby Australia announced Saturday the signing of Sydney Roosters superstar Joseph Suaalii has agreed to switch codes at the end of the 2024 season.
19-year-old Suaalli is regarded as one of the brightest prospects in the 13-man code, so his switch to Rugby Union is a significant coup for Rugby Australia. Remaining in Sydney, Suaalli will link up with the Super Rugby side, the New South Wales Waratahs.
Despite currently plying his trade in the NRL, Suaalli initially broke through as a highly touted Rugby Union player at King’s School in Paramatta.
Following months of speculation about the youngsters’ future, the move clearly didn’t come as a shock to anyone involved in either code.
Speaking yesterday, Suaalli’s Roosters teammate, Kiwi international Brandon Smith, joked about the move: “Super stoked for him, he’s an amazing talent, and rugby really got a gem there.”
Going further, Smith poked fun at the state of Union in Australia by saying: “A $1.6m winger from the Roosters isn’t going to help you beat the All Blacks.
‘Like [ARL Commission chair] Peter V’landys said, “go over, get that easy money and then come back to the real sport’.
“That $1.6m could’ve been spent better on the grassroots of Rugby” Smith concluded.
For the new Wallabies coach Eddie Jones, Suaalli’s signing is the first move in a much bigger plan to poach several league stars ahead of the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia.
Speaking to Australian broadcasters channel nine, Jones said: “There’s a definite priority in there; the first thing we want to do is retain all the talent in rugby, then secondly we want to recruit back the guys who were in rugby and went to league.”