NRL powerhouse target Wallabies young gun as replacement for Suaalii
Less than 10 months after losing prized young gun Joseph Suaalii to Australian rugby, the Sydney Roosters could be plotting some revenge after arranging to meet with Wallabies star Mark Nawaqanitawase.
The 23-year-old Wallabies winger will meet with Roosters officials, including head coach Trent Robertson, next week about a potential cross-code switch.
With Suaalii to leave the NRL powerhouse club at the end of next year to join the Waratahs and veteran winger Daniel Tupou nearing the end of his career, the Roosters are on the hunt for another outside back.
Nawaqanitawase is off contract at the end of next year, having signed a one-year extension earlier this year, and the Roosters are considering the 192cm, 100kg winger.
Ironically, the star winger, who enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2022 before kicking on in 2023, only is off contract because Rugby Australia encouraged Nawaqanitawase to only sign a one-year extension.
That was in large part because RA had hoped they would have ushered through their new contracting system, where players of national interest are signed by the national body. They still haven’t.
What RA’s contracting managers didn’t anticipate was Suaalii would be lured over on a deal worth an estimated $1.5 million.
Indeed, Suaalii’s huge three-year deal is only about to be felt.
After his brilliant finish to 2022 and strong 2023, Nawaqanitawase will earn more than $500,000 in 2024.
Nawaqanitawase will naturally point to Suaalii’s deal when his management commences conversations with RA over the coming months.
After being one of the few shining lights from a dire year, Nawaqanitawase will be able to point to a body of work, including one of the best aerial talents in the world, when discussing his next contract.
Nawaqanitawase only returned home to Australia this week after travelling throughout Europe following the Wallabies’ early World Cup exit.
It’s understood he has expressed no desire to want to leave the XV-player game but is open to hearing what the Roosters have to say.
Yet, with a British and Irish Lions campaign and a home World Cup on the horizon, it is unlikely Nawaqanitawase will be lured away.
Even so, it’s a warning for RA to get their house in order.