King’s School Parramatta superstar Joseph Suaalii looks set to sign with Rugby Australia as the Union appear to have snapped the youngster up from under the noses of the NRL.
According to a report from the Australian newspaper The Telegraph, the sixteen-year-old will sign a three year contract with Rugby Australia worth AU$1 million a year. He had previously been set to sign a three-year deal with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, especially known in the UK for their owner Russell Crowe and former star player turned coach Sam Burgess, one of the biggest clubs in Rugby League.
That deal, however, could not be signed until Suaalii turned 17, on the 1stAugust, allowing Rugby Australia to make their offer for the young full back.
Rugby Australia spoke to ESPN and a spokesperson said that the figures reported were off the mark and that a deal was not completed, and given the financial perils that Rugby Australia are in that perhaps does not come as a huge surprise.
Rugby League legend Sam Burgess talks about young sensation Joseph Suaalii
Nevertheless, the teenage star could be just the sort of player around whom Rugby Australia can start to rebuild, a player with perhaps a decade and a half of service available, to lose him to League would be a bitter blow for the Union, and it seems that the prestige of a place in the 7s squad for the delayed Tokyo Olympics is another potential string to the bow of the Rugby Australia offer.
Suaalii broke into the 1stXV at King’s Parramatta, who frequently tour the UK and Ireland, as a 14-year-old after being granted special exemption to play so young. His two seasons saw him become one of the most talked about young players on the planet and this year he was starring for Australia U18, as a sixteen-year-old, helping defeat New Zealand along the way.
King’s Parramatta are one of Australia’s oldest and best school rugby sides and have produced 28 Australian internationals, including four captains, Stirling Mortlock among them.
As for Suaalii, whether in League or Union he appears to be a name that will become very much a household one across the globe in the years to come.