Waratahs set to lose two up-and-comers ahead of Suaalii’s arrival as NSW Rugby announce $4.8m loss


After limited opportunities over the past two years, Waratahs backs Harry Wilson and Mosese Tuipulotu will head to the United Kingdom.

On Thursday it was announced that Wilson, the son of former Wallabies World Cup winner David, had signed with Welsh outfit the Dragons.

But he’s not the only back that will leave Daceyville, with Tuipulotu, the brother of former Rebels midfielder turned Scottish international Sione, to join Edinburgh.

The Roar understands Tuipulotu has been granted an early release.

Mosese Tuipulotu (R) is set to leave the Waratahs and join Edinburgh. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

It comes off the back of barely being sighted behind Wallabies pair Lalakai Foketi and Izaia Perese, as well as Joey Walton.

With Perese joining Dan McKellar’s Leicester Tigers at season’s end, it will see the Waratahs go from a squad full of midfielders to one with just a couple left.

The changes come as the Waratahs prepare to welcome Rooster star Joseph Suaalii, with the schoolboy sensation, who was hotly pursued by former Wallabies coaches Michael Cheika and then Dave Rennie, putting pen to paper with on a mega three-year, multi-million deal last year.

Suaalii is likely to feature at outside centre for the Waratahs, with Max Jorgensen and returning star Andrew Kellaway set to battle it out to wear the No.15 jersey. All three players can play across several positions.

The Waratahs wanted to keep Wilson but couldn’t get their ducks in a row to work out a compelling package to keep the versatile back.

Harry Wilson will join the Dragons in the United Rugby Championship. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Wilson, who scored a stunning try against the Crusaders during the Waratahs’ win in Super Round earlier this year, said he was looking forward to testing himself in a new environment.

“I’m excited at the prospect of becoming a Dragon and linking up with my new team-mates this summer,” said Wilson.

“I’ve spoken to [Dragons head coach] Dai Flanagan about the club’s vision and targets going forward and look forward to being a big part of a new-look squad and testing myself in a new competition.

“It’s a big opportunity for me to move to Wales and a new challenge that I plan to fully embrace.”

Flanagan said Wilson’s utility value was something that appealed to the United Rugby Championship side.

“He is a great athlete and talented young centre, who can also operate in the wide channels,” Flanagan said in a statement.

“The fact he can play multiple positions will be a real asset to us.

“Harry arrives with Super Rugby experience and is a player with a big future.”

Tuipulotu’s defection to Scotland comes 12 months after he decided to stay at the Waratahs.

Starved of opportunities, he will follow in the footsteps of his brother Sione who has made every post a winner since leaving the Rebels, with the 27-year-old becoming a mainstay at inside centre for Scotland under Gregor Townsend.

The recent developments come as NSW Rugby announced a $4.8 million deficit in 2023.

The massive deficit comes after Rugby Australia announced their own $9.2m loss on Monday, with the governing body taking over the operational running of the Waratahs earlier this year.

NSW Waratahs CEO Paul Doorn and Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh pose at Daceyville on November 14, 2023 in Sydney. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

The NSW Rugby board put the deficit down to poor membership, gate takings from home game and sponsorship.

“Lower home game attendance and a poor win/loss record challenged our income sources,” Waratahs CEO Paul Doorn said.

“Broadcast revenue distributed to the Super Rugby Clubs via Rugby Australia also declined. In addition, fixed costs remained for players, coaches and the high-performance program. This imbalance has been a significant contributor to financial stress for all Australian Super Rugby Clubs, including the Waratahs.”

The Roar understands that the Waratahs are tracking behind their targets in 2024, which comes off the back of another poor season on the field which has seen Darren Coleman’s side win just two of nine matches ahead of their daunting clash against the ladder-leader Hurricanes in Wellington.

The deficit comes as Rugby Australia prepares to vote against a rescue deal to save the Melbourne Rebels on Friday afternoon.

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