St George Illawarra Dragons coach Shane Flanagan has responded to reports that the club could pounce on Joseph Suaalii if his deal with Rugby Australia fell through.

Set to leave the NRL and Sydney Roosters at the end of the season for the 15-man code, rumours have emerged about Suaalii's future after the sudden closure of the Melbourne Rebels.

The Melbourne Rebels will be shut down at the end of the Super Rugby season after 14 years, and Rugby Australia recently reported a deficit of $9.2 million.

Speaking on Triple M's Sunday Sin Bin last weekend, James Hooper suggested that the Dragons would be ready to strike on Suaalii's services if Rugby Australia could not afford his services for next season and beyond.

However, coach Shane Flanagan has responded to the rumours, offering a cryptic response in return.

“If Rugby Australia can't afford him, then how can we afford him?” Flanagan said before the Dragons' 56-14 victory against the Wests Tigers on Friday evening.

“I haven't even investigated that. He's a quality player and a quality young man. I had a bit to do with him because his younger brother played (is) in the academy side that I had a bit to do with.

“It's a quality family, and he's (a) quality young man, but I'll leave that to another day.”

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This wasn't the first time the Dragons have been linked with a move to recruit Joseph Suaalii.

In the latter stages of last season, Flanagan reportedly told Suaalii's agent, Isaac Moses, that he was interested in signing him for 2024 if the Sydney Roosters wanted to offload him from their roster.

However, the move didn't eventuate, and he remained in Bondi, where his form earned him a call-up to the NSW Blues team.

Alongside the Suaalii rumours, the club has been linked with several outside backs, such as Sunia Turuva, following Zac Lomax's departure to the Parramatta Eels next season - they could also lose Savlio Tamale to the Canberra Raiders.

“I honestly have not said anything," Suaalii previously told The Herald regarding whether he has promised to return to the 13-man game after a stint in rugby union.

“Nick (Politis) says that all the time, which is good to hear that he wants me at the club.

“He is a good man and I respect everything that he has done for me and the club – but I honestly have not looked that far ahead.

“I'm focused on playing for the Roosters and now for the Blues on Wednesday night.”