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Kiwis star Joey Manu on what he told Suaalii about code switch

By AAP
(Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Joey Manu can see the possibility of Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii returning to the NRL one day, after acting as a mentor and sounding board for the rugby union-bound teenage prodigy.

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Manu and Suaalii have formed a tight bond in the youngster’s stint at the Sydney Roosters, with the pair both playing rugby growing up and starring in the outside backs.

The 26-year-old Manu said his fellow centre had been seemingly unfazed by the spotlight on his move, with Suaalii yet to speak publicly since signing a three-year, $5 million deal with Rugby Australia.

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But he did reveal he had spoken to Suaalii as the youngster weighed up his future and his possible shift to the 15-man game from late 2024.

“We did speak a little bit, but nothing too deep,” Manu said.

“I didn’t really give him advice. I just said the choice was up to him. Do what makes you happy.

“There was a lot of talk, so just making sure he is alright really. That was up to him and his family.”

Suaalii’s future beyond the completion of his rugby deal in 2027 remains another matter of contention, given he will still only be aged 24.

Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary last month predicted Suaalii could have a career similar to Sonny Bill Williams, jumping back and forth between the two codes.

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Manu said he and Suaalii had not spoken about that, but could see the likelihood of a return to rugby league for the Wallabies star-in-waiting.

“Probably,” Manu said when asked if he could see Suaalii returning.

“I don’t know, he can do whatever he wants really. He will still be pretty young by then.

“The decision is up to him, I will always be there to support him. And if he ever needs to talk I will be there. He has big decisions to make”

Manu himself also opted to not shut the door on an eventual move to the 15-man game on Monday, with his contract up at the Roosters at the end of next year.

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The Kiwi Test fullback admitted in 2019 he had always wanted to be an All Black, and still had a desire to one day play for them.

All Blacks coach Ian Foster had been interested in talking to the Roosters star about the move in 2021, before he ultimately re-signed with the Tri-colours.

Manu said he had not given recent thought to one day moving to the 15-man game.

“I don’t really think too deep into the future,” Manu said.

“I am just myself, and wherever I am at … I am just trying to do my job each week so I am not thinking about that at all.

“I am just happy to be at the Roosters, and I am still trying to get better as a Roosters player.

“I am playing rugby league at the moment, so I just want to enjoy my time while I am here.”

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