After agreeing to sign with the Sydney Roosters and confirming a cross-code switch from rugby union, Mark Nawaqanitawase has spoken for the first time regarding his decision.

The move will see him play the 13-man game in 2025 and 2026 at Bondi with Trent Robinson's side, who themselves will lose Joseph Suaalii over the same period after he agreed to go in the opposite direction.

In his first interview since the switch was confirmed, Nawaqanitawase praised Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson and club chairman Nick Politis for their understanding during contract negotiations.

He also dismissed suggestions from certain rugby union officials and critics that his code switch is aimed as an 'up yours' to the 15-man code.

“I'm not doing this code change in any way to have a crack at rugby,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald, speaking for the first time publicly since his code switch

“I love the sport and it's got me to this position in life. To see some of the stuff that is being said is actually quite laughable.

“I'm not some part of a code war, I'm just doing what is right for me right now, and the opportunity at this young age to play for a club like the Roosters is something that I could not knock back.”

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Rugby union have attempted to poach multiple NRL stars in recent times, with Joseph Suaalii becoming the first.

The young prodigy signed a monstrous $1.6 million per year deal with Rugby Australia to feature in the 2025 British and Irish Lions tour, as well as the 2027 Rugby World Cup on home soil, and was the only one to make the switch.

Nawaqanitawase going the other way is a bitter blow for Rugby Australia, with the youngster one of the best up-and-coming players in the game, and, at the age of 23, already having 11 caps for the Wallabies to go with 45 games for the Waratahs.

The star winger and fullback, who could directly replace Suaalii at the Roosters in 2025, played at the 2023 World Cup in France in what was a disastrous campaign for the Wallabies.

The nature of a two-year deal with the club and reports emerging that his potential return to the Wallabies in the future suggests this won't be a long-term permanent move.

“That's just going to depend on how things go over the next couple of years, and if I fall in love with the game like I expect to do,” he added.

“I'd be silly not to look at things in 2027 when it comes to rugby, but right now that is a long way down the track and a lot can happen in that time.

"Of course, I wouldn't rule anything out but, to be honest, the opportunity I've got right now is one that not many people my age could hope to get.”

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He will be aiming to replicate the formline of another winger who recently made the switch from rugby union - albeit the sevens version - to the Melbourne Storm in Will Warbrick.

The path of Nawaqanitawase is an almost unchartered one in the modern game, though, with the 23-year-old becoming the first incumbent Wallaby to make the code switch in two decades.

Growing up as an admirer of Benji Marshall, Nawaqanitawase previously played rugby league for the Leichhardt Wanderers in the Balmain juniors system.

He has also watched Israel Folau and Sonny Bill Williams closely in the past as the two switched from rugby league to union - and, in the case of Sonny Bill Williams, switched back to league.

Set to work under Trent Robinson, Nawaqanitawase was in full admiration for the veteran premiership-winning head coach.

“Well I look at what he did for the career of someone like Daniel Tupou,” Nawaqanitawase said.

“He was in reserve grade at Parramatta, and now look at where he is with the Roosters. Same with James Tedesco when he came from the Tigers.

"He's gone to a completely different level as a footballer under Trent Robinson and I hope that I can learn on and off the field from Trent.”

Nawaqanitawase becomes just the Roosters' 18th contracted player for 2025, leaving the club with some salary cap wiggle room remaining but a lot of work still to do in securing star back Joseph Manu, among other uncontracted players.