‘It’s an option’: Manu serious about potential rugby switch as Roosters star closes in on huge contract call
Roosters star Joseph Manu is weighing up whether to make a switch to rugby union at the end of the year with the Kiwi international admitting playing for “the All Blacks would be pretty cool”.
The game’s best centre is off contract at the end of the year and his management has floated the prospect of a short-term switch to take up a lucrative offer to play club rugby in Japan before returning to the Roosters.
But Manu is also open to the prospect of making a long-term switch to the 15-player code to minimise speculation about when or if he would be returning to the NRL. He wants to finalise his future before the Roosters’ trip to Las Vegas at the end of the month for the NRL’s historic opening round.
“I’ve been here for a long time now and Roosters is pretty much home for me … if I’m playing rugby league, I’m here at the Roosters,” Manu told Nine News.
“I’m not too sure what I will end up doing, but rugby is a challenge and it’s something different, something new. If I go and play rugby, I will be focused on rugby – not really going and coming back sort of thing.
“Obviously [playing for] the All Blacks would be pretty cool. That’s a Kiwi’s dream.
“It’s the option to try and challenge myself. I think for any player, that’s where they grow as a player and a person.”
Manu is no stranger to rugby after starting out in the code before he was scouted by the Roosters as a teenager.
“I grew up playing rugby but it’s really just a case of looking at all options and that was one that was tossed up,” he said.
“I’ve been at the Roosters for 10 years now. It’s been a long time and I love the place. That makes it very hard to leave but we’ll see what happens.”
St George Illawarra have offered the 2021 Golden Boot winner a long-term deal reportedly worth as much as $1.2 million a season if he wants to remain in the NRL but have a chance to play his preferred position of fullback.
Roosters skipper James Tedesco has the No.1 jersey ahead of Manu for at least two more seasons with the veteran signed until the end of 2025 and potentially extending his career after that deal.
But the prospect of playing for an NRL team against coach Trent Robinson and the club that made him a star does not hold much appeal for Manu.
“I don’t want to play against them at all. Not at all. What the club’s done for me over my career, I couldn’t do that,” Manu said.
“I appreciate all that help too much and I’ve enjoyed my time. I’d like to stay, that’s the priority and we’ll see what happens with the other options.
“Robbo’s very open, he’s a very good man and he just wants what’s best for you. I want the best for myself and my family, and the Roosters too.
“Whatever happens, it has to be good for everyone, so we had those open conversations and now it’s up to my manager. [Rugby] is still just an option at this stage. But I’m at the point where it’s time to look at those options in both codes. I played both codes growing up.
“And in terms of rugby league, I want to be a Rooster. That’s where my head is at and playing rugby league is what I’m focusing on.”