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Joseph Manu shuts down All Blacks rumours to sign new NRL deal

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

NRL star Joseph Manu has turned down the chance to become an All Black by inking a new deal with the Sydney Roosters, four months after he became the subject of a potential cross-code move.

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Reports emerged in August that Manu was being eyed up by New Zealand Rugby [NZR] as he neared the end of his contract with the Roosters, which expired on November 1.

One of rugby league’s hottest properties, the 25-year-old was also reportedly chased by the Brisbane Broncos and the Gold Coast Titans, while New Zealand Warriors boss Nathan Brown publicly suggested that his side would make a ploy for Manu’s signature.

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All Blacks head coach Ian Foster followed suit, saying in the lead-up to his side’s second Bledisloe Cup test against the Wallabies earlier this year that he was “pretty keen to talk” to Manu if he was interested in moving to rugby union.

Rumours of a code switch were fuelled by comments made by Manu two years ago, when he told the Sydney Morning Herald that he “wanted to be an All Black” as a youngster and that he “would love to play for them”.

However, speculation of a move by Manu to union appears to have been quashed as the Hamilton-born utility back has signed a contract extension with the Roosters in a deal that will keep him in the NRL until 2024.

“The Roosters is home to me and I couldn’t see myself playing for another club. From the top down, I love this club,” Manu said in a statement.

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“Trent [Robinson, Roosters head coach] and the coaches and staff we have here help make me a better player and person every day. It’s a privilege to wear the Roosters jersey and I’m excited for what the future holds.”

Robinson, who played down the prospect of Manu leaving the Roosters when rumours of a possible move to NZR first circulated, said he is delighted to have tied his star man down for another three years.

“Joseph has been with club since he was a schoolboy and I’ve loved watching him develop into the hardworking player and game-changer we all enjoy watching today,” he said.

“Joey has an incredible work ethic and is confident in the player and man that he is, and it’s great news that his leadership will continue to benefit the Roosters in the coming years.”

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After joining the Roosters as a teenager in 2014, Manu made his NRL debut for the club in 2016 and played a key role in their 2018 and 2019 title-winning campaigns.

Earlier this year, he brought up his 100th NRL appearance and made his debut for the Maori All-Stars, while he has played in five test matches for the Kiwis since 2018.

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