Report: New Zealand Rugby eye up Kiwi NRL star for cross-code move
New Zealand Rugby [NZR] is reportedly chasing another rugby league star shortly after Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s early departure from the NRL last month.
Following his early contract release from the Warriors, Tuivasa-Sheck is in line to make his professional rugby union debut for Auckland over the coming weeks, and he could soon be joined on NZR’s books by his former Kiwis teammate Joseph Manu.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Manu is in NZR’s sights as one of the NRL’s most exciting young talents prepares to come off-contract with the Sydney Roosters on November 1.
It comes days after Warriors head coach Nathan Brown hinted that the Auckland-based club might make a ploy for the 25-year-old as he looks to replace the star power of Tuivasa-Sheck.
However, Sydney Roosters boss Trent Robinson is confident of keeping hold of Manu, who has won two NRL Premierships and played five tests for New Zealand since making his first-grade debut in 2016.
“There’s no concerns there in that sense,” Robinson said when asked about the similarities between the defection of Tuivasa-Sheck, an ex-Rooster, to union and the possible loss of Manu to the XV-man game.
“There’s obviously lessons learned in how that went about, but that’s life. Joey is a different guy to Roger as well. He’s been here for much longer as well. Roger was only here for a couple of years before he left whereas Joey’s been here a long long time now.
“Joey’s always been important to us. Ever since he was a kid and came over here you can see what he means to us as a team.
“He’s been a Rooster, he is a Rooster, and his family are Roosters as well, so we understand. It’d be mad if there wasn’t interest, but we definitely want to keep him as a Rooster.”
It is understood NZR are able to offer Manu $600,000 per season, including a Super Rugby deal, but the league utility – who can cover centre, wing, fullback and five-eighth – could command more than $1 million per year in the NRL.
However, the Telegraph reports that NZR are yet to approach Manu about a cross-code move, but the Hamilton-born product has previously spoken of his desire to play for the All Blacks.
“Ever since I was young I wanted to be an All Black,” Manu, who stands at 1.92m and 98kg, told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2019.
“I’m still a big fan of them, especially when it comes to World Cups. It’s a pretty big occasion for pretty much all New Zealanders. I love [watching] at the moment, but one day, I would love to play for them.”
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