Sayonara, Sydney: Manu to Japan CONFIRMED as Roosters admit they cannot hold Kiwi superstar


Joseph Manu is to leave the Sydney Roosters at the end of the 2024 NRL season after the club confirmed his move to Japanese rugby union.

As first revealed by The Roar, the former Golden Boot winner will link up with Toyota Verblitz from next season, with coach Trent Robinson admitting that the draw of a move away from Australia was too much to ignore for Manu.

“Joey has been open about his desire to experience the challenge of living overseas with his young family, and of playing in a different environment, so while we are sad to see him go, we fully support him,” he said.

“Joey will always be a Rooster. He is very clear on what he wants to achieve this season and we look forward to sharing the year ahead.”

Manu will join respected All Blacks coaches Steve Hansen and Ian Foster at the club, with the latter putting pen to paper to link back with his long-time New Zealand colleague.

Should Manu one day want to have a tilt at playing for the All Blacks, the NRL superstar back won’t get a better schooling than being mentored by the two most recent New Zealand coaches.

Ian Foster has joined Steve Hansen in Japan, with the former All Blacks coaches signing Joey Manu from the Sydney Roosters. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Manu is the second key member of the Easts backline to swap codes following Joseph Suaalii’s decision to depart for the NSW Waratahs, also at the end of this year.

Mark Nawaqanitawase will come in the other direction, turning down a deal from the Tahs and the Wallabies to try his hand in rugby league.

“I have cherished my time playing rugby league for the Roosters, so it’s been a tough decision to leave the club and NRL,” said Manu.

“I will always be grateful to wear the Roosters jersey and to everyone who has supported me and provided me with some incredible opportunities.

“While I’m excited to embrace the challenge of playing rugby in Japan, right now I am focused on finishing this year strongly and performing at my very best for the Roosters.”

It leaves three of the Roosters back five spots open for next year, as Daniel Tupou, the club’s all-time record tryscorer, is also off contract and may not be extended given his age.

James Tedesco will wear the 1 jumper and continue to captain the club, while Dominic Young, last year’s NRL leading tryscorer, is a long-term option on the wing despite a mixed start to his career at Bondi in 2024.

Billy Smith is the obvious choice to take over from Manu in the centres, but the other spots are very much up for grabs and it would not be surprising if the Roosters chose to go to market to find a ready-made replacement.

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