As if fending off rival NRL clubs wasn't enough of an issue for the Manly Sea Eagles, it's now clear they will have to also fend off the Wallabies for the signature of Tolutau Koula.

The breakout youngster was one of the revelations of the NRL last year, making his debut in Round 1 before scoring 6 tries in 20 games.

It wasn't his try-scoring ability which he stood out for though, with his silky smooth skills on the ball often putting Manly on the front foot. The centre, who can also play fullback, averaged 121 metres per game and had a strong rookie season defensively as well.

In any season without Jeremiah Nanai in it, he may well have won rookie of the year.

But the Sea Eagles now have a problem.

Koula isn't off-contract until the end of the season, but it's reported the Wallabies are about to up the ante for his signature, with Fox Sports suggesting a figure of around $800,000 per year will be offered as the 15-man national team attempt to built towards the 2027 Rugby World Cup.

It's believed coach Eddie Jones and his recruitment team have plenty of names on the hitlist from the NRL, with previous reports suggesting Cameron Murray could be another one, alongside Wellington-born star forward Nelson Asofa-Solomona.

Joseph Suaalii is also a chance of moving to the 15-man game, while Will Penisini, who scored the opening try of the 2023 NRL season for the Eels on Thursday evening, is another on the hitlist.

But Koula, given his youthful age and the chance of playing in one of sport's biggest tournaments on home soil, could be the NRL's biggest danger of a code swap right now.

$800,000 could see the Wallabies right in the ballpark to steal Koula away from the Northern Beaches, where he will again line up in the centres this year as he attempts to take his game to the next level.

Koula, who played for the Australian Schoolboys in rugby union before switching to the NRL, will be a key target of the Sea Eagles though, with News Corp suggesting they are willing to increase their current offer in an effort to retain him.

That should hardly come as a surprise given his talent, but it's anything but a foregone conclusion, with plenty of other NRL clubs also likely to come to the table from November 1 this year in an attempt to keep Koula in the NRL - just not with the Sea Eagles.

Manly's salary cap position may not allow them a great deal of flexibility on Koula either given Daly Cherry-Evans has re-signed on big money, and both Tom Trbojevic and Jake Trbojevic will be at the club.

While they won't have to shell out a great deal of extra cash heading into 2024 given their off-contract list is skinny, all of Lachlan Croker, Karl Lawton, Taniela Paseka, Josh Schuster and Christian Tuipulotu are off-contract alongside Koula at the end of next year, while the club will also be aiming to bring in a high-profile recruit under new coach Anthony Seibold after a disastrous end to the 2022 season which saw seven straight losses as the Sea Eagles were bundled out of the top eight.