The loss of Rabbitohs superstar young gun Joseph Sualeili to the roster will “go down as one of the biggest dumb moves in South Sydney history” and an example of shameful “capital mismanagement” of wages.
Suali will meet his old side for the first time in the NRL as the two fierce rivals prepare to face off in the sold-out opener at the new Allianz Stadium this weekend.
A former Souths junior, he was poached by Sydney after months of contract negotiations in 2020 – and is also in the hunt for his signature with Rugby Australia.
Former Rabbitohs head of football Shane Richardson told NewsCorporate this week that the club was unable to match the Roosters’ offer – and refused to pay for superstar Latrell Mitchell as they had the number one jersey.
Stream every game of the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership season live and without ad-break when you play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
Listen to the full Jackson Hastings interview on the Fox League podcast
“And we had Latrell Mitchell,” Richardson said. He was always going to play fullback. We wanted to keep it but at the end of the day we felt we could use the money elsewhere and have a circular shape.
“We didn’t want him to go but the club gave him too much money and we couldn’t match him. He is a brave athlete, no doubt about it. “
But veteran rugby league journalist Paul Kent rubbished those claims, telling NRL 360: “I don’t understand. They didn’t manage their cap properly. There is no way in the world you would let a guy like that go. They spent a lot of money on it, and when they finally got to the point where they could get a distributor, they let it go. They let him be fooled by the roosters of all clubs.
Letting this girl go will go down as one of the biggest stupid moves in South Sydney history.
“I’m shocked at that,” replied Bright Anasta.
The Daily Telegraph’s senior league reporter Paul Crowley said: “Suaalii have now retained players who have passed. He was always destined – this man was destined for greatness. So if you can keep him in your circle, you keep him…you would have moved heaven and earth to keep him.
NRL Teams Analysis: Souths star in worst clash as Cowboys name shocking No.6
Teams: Named Latrell, although not unusual; As the stars of Penrith rest, Kevvy swings an axe
Reserves: How $750k Dogs star reacts to ax as Roosters’ next generation wreaks havoc
While Richardson noted that Mitchell was key in Souths’ fullback role, the Roosters have an equally world-class player in that role in James Tedesco. However, 19-year-old Suali has been a standout on the right wing as he continues his rapid rise.
Kent said: “They (Sydney) have found a way to make it work … to make this excuse for South Sydney to sit there and have Latrell at fullback because they have nowhere else to play.
Dave Riccio replied: “Cap issues for sure. Capital issues, must be capital mismanagement.
Kent continued: “It’s mismanagement. The other part of it is that when you get these gold-plated players early, you find a way to keep him at your club.
“They could have kept him in the lower division, the Roosters were paying more than anything South Sydney would pay. They could have kept him under, but they let him go. You’ll have to pay well above what you’re paying now to bring back a player of the same level.
Get all the NRL news, highlights and analysis straight to your inbox with Fox Sports Sportmail. Sign up now!
Riccio has snubbed Rugby Australia’s bid to poach Suaalii, a talented rugby union player at King’s School who represents the NSW Schoolboys and Australian Schoolboys U18 Rugby Sevens.
The Daily Telegraph reports today that Suali tops a list of potential RA NRL stars for the Wallabies with the 2025 British and Irish Lions tour and the 2027 World Cup in Australia on the horizon. The report raised hopes of a deal worth $2 million a year over five years.
Details: Rugby is plotting a mega-raid of NRL talent. A $10m bid is set to begin for the Roosters star.
But Riccio said of the report: “What a shame for the Australian Rugby Union. These people sit in their own nests like school children. At that time they have the opportunity to develop these players into rugby union players.
“So now that you have Sualiu in your back pocket as a schoolboy, there have been discussions about giving him two million dollars at one point! It is pharisaical. It’s a shame that the Roosters, the NRL club, are doing a better job of identifying talent than the entire code.
Transfer Whispers: Knights Sign Bronco After Milford Lost Rivals running around cowboys
Feature: How the Broncos’ dream year fell apart — and a clean exit could follow