The Wests Tigers are the latest team in contention to sign teenage sensation Joseph Suaalii.
Despite being offered a whopping four-year deal worth around $1.9 million from South Sydney and being at the club since the age of 13, the Daily Telegraph understands that Suaalii, 17, has revealed he does not want to play his football with the Rabbitohs next season.
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With big demands and a clear disinterest in wanting to play for the Rabbitohs, the club have opted to move their interest in another direction.
Another linked club in the race for the signature of Suaalii is the Sydney Roosters.
Although they are heavily interested, fitting the star teenager into their tight salary cap would be an issue.
Suaalii’s preferred position to play would be at fullback, but with star James Tedesco already in that position at the Roosters, another position would have to be explored. Suaalii could also play at five-eighth, but Luke Keary has that position locked in which provides a tough outlook.
With an appealing running game in both codes of rugby, Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire rates the teenager very highly.
Given Maguire and Suaalii have history when both were at the Rabbitohs and with the Tigers having enough salary cap and the opportunity to provide Suaalii with his preferred position on field, it could be an attractive destination.
Although an official offer hasn’t been laid out yet, there is a real interest between the two parties, and a potential deal could be done from 2022 given Suaalii has a year left on his development contract.
With rumours linking Suaalii to the Roosters, they were immediately denied by those close to him.
Labelled a “hell of an athlete with an attitude that is all over the place.”, Suaalii has the attributes to become a great player, and clubs around the league are certainly aware of the teenager.
Suaalii could be released to the Roosters in 2021 if the opportunity arose for the club, provided that they pay the Rabbitohs a development fee.
It also appears that coach Wayne Bennett has run out of patience with the teenager, and while it won’t be made known to the wider community, it’s believed the Rabbitohs see Suaalii and his family as disrespecting the club.
To earn the respect back of the Rabbitohs should he still be at the club in 2021, Suaalii is in for a lot of work and would have to show a clear desire and passion to be there after these recent reports and let his football do the talking.
It’s also been reported that Suaalii, who is still at school next year, wanted clauses in his contract that allowed him to leave after each season, which was strongly denied by the Rabbitohs.
The fear for any club with interest in Suaalii also is they run the risk of losing the teenager to both codes, given the history with both.