AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 30: Joseph Manu of the Roosters during warmup prior to the round nine NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Sydney Roosters at Mt Smart Stadium on April 30, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Joseph Manu has lifted the lid on a potential code-switch to rugby union and admits he is open to leaving the Sydney Roosters.

Off-contract at the end of the season, the former Golden Boot winner is currently the hottest free agent in the NRL and has yet to lock down his future post-2024.

This comes after the 27-year-old outside back confirmed he is still weighing up his options for next year.

The Roosters superstar and New Zealand international has spoken for the first time after reports emerged that he was considering a move to the 15-man code at the expiry of his contract on a nearly $1.5 million contract in Japan.

The potential Manu coup for rugby union would see the code land the latest blow after the Roosters secured the services of Wallabies flyer Mark Nawaqanitawase from 2025 on a two-year deal.

Rugby union has looked to snare some of the NRL's top talent in recent seasons and were successful in their pursuit of young Roosters star Joseph Suaalii, who will leave for Rugby Australia at the time Manu's current deal expires at the end of next season.

“It's an option, I think rugby is a challenge,” Manu told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“If I go to play rugby, I'm focused on rugby, not on coming back.

“You could probably go there and come back, but the focus isn't really going there to just play for a few months and come back. It's not really that.

“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.

“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.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 06: Joseph Manu of the Roosters celebrates victory at fulltime during the 2019 NRL Grand Final match between the Canberra Raiders and the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium on October 06, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

An elite fullback, centre and five-eighth in the NRL, Manu has squashed the rumours of him joining another NRL club, stating he could never play against the Sydney Roosters.

It is understood that the St George Illawarra Dragons were willing to secure his services on a $1.2 million-a-season contract across a four-year period after Shane Flanagan publicly targeted him as the face of the Dragons rebuild.

Despite the contract being worth more than his deal at the Roosters, Manu admits the only other choice apart from re-signing with the Bondi-based club is for rugby union.

The Herald revealed that he has held talks with Super Rugby's Waikato Chiefs and could become the latest code-hopper to represent the All Blacks, following in the footsteps of Brad Thorne and Sonny Bill Williams.

“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.”

TOPSHOT - Joseph Manu of New Zealand (L) is tackled by Latrell Mitchell of Australia (R) during the Trans Tasman rugby league international between New Zealand and Australia at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland on October 13, 2018. (Photo by Fiona Goodall / AFP) (Photo credit should read FIONA GOODALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Former code-hopping star Sonny Bill Williams revealed last year that he believes Joseph Manu should be allowed to head to rugby union, and that it will make him a better player as a result.

Playing a single season in Japan could net Manu, who has played predominantly in the centres for the Roosters but has grand ambitions of being a fullback, north of a million dollars per season.

“When you're an elite player like Joey is, that's what you can do,” Williams told the Herald in December.

“As long as it's done respectfully, he deserves a chance to see what's there for himself.

“I'm proud of him for stepping out there and doing his thing. When you have that talent, that talent deserves to be seen.

“I think it'll be good for Joey, and he'll come back with a really enhanced skill level – that's what I found from my time [in Japan]. It'll be such a good experience for him, and stepping out of his comfort zone, that should be applauded.”