Souths to pay Suaalii $60,000 not to play to delay Roosters switch
November 4, 2020 — 7.45pm
South Sydney will pay Joseph Suaalii $60,000 next year not to play football to ensure he can’t defect to the Roosters until the following season.
The Roosters are poised to sign Suaalii on a three-year deal from 2022 onwards, but were hoping the 17-year-old could broker a release that would allow him to join immediately. However, Suaalii is contracted to the Rabbitohs for 2021 and the club has refused his latest requests to leave early. The fullback doesn’t want to play for Souths, who are prepared to pay his $60,000 contract for next year even if he doesn’t take the field.
Joseph Suaalii is reportedly locked in a standoff with Souths as the teen pushes for a multi-year deal with clauses in his favour.
The Rabbitohs are prepared to write the money off just to ensure he doesn’t link up with their arch-rivals. The development could result in the most hyped teenager in either code sitting out an entire season.
Suaalii is desperate for a change of scene after being weighed down by the publicity that has surrounded his stint at Redfern. However, the Roosters are the one club that Souths aren’t prepared to release him to. Suaalii is not resigned to the fate of being paid without having to play.
The fullback decided his future was at Bondi Junction following a meeting of Roosters powerbrokers that included fellow cross-code star Sonny Bill Williams. The King’s School student was also told he would be coached to become the long-term replacement for James Tedesco when the NSW and Australian fullback eventually retires.
Suaalii’s future was the source of discussion in Blues camp ahead of the opening game.
Back-rower Cameron Murray, himself the subject of a tug-of-war between league and union in his teens, described Suaalii as a tremendous prospect.
“I still haven’t seen him play ever, I only got a glimpse of him when he did a few days of training with us for a few days in pre-season. I was impressed with what I saw,” Murray said.
"He’s got a good head on his shoulders, he’s a good kid. He’s respectful, off the field he’s a really great person and on the field he’s a great athlete.
"Just from what I saw, he’s going to be a great football player, he already is.
"I just wish him all the best in terms of the stage where he’s at. He’s got a lot of hype around him and he’s only very young.
"You only have to think back to when you were at that age, if you had all this hype around you, how you would handle it?
"There has been a lot of media attention about him and I hope he is dealing alright. I hope he has good people around him to steer him in the right direction.
“Obviously I’d like to see him in Souths colours, but I’m sure he will make the right decision for his family.”
Another promising youngster who came through the Rabbitohs’ lower grades, Emmanuel Di Bartolo, has already left the club. The teen playmaker was released to take up a three-year deal with Manly.