Seasoned rugby league centre, Joey Manu, has thrown his support behind his young Sydney Roosters teammate, Joseph Suaalii, amid mounting scrutiny and speculations regarding a rumoured switch from National Rugby League to rugby union. Manu applauded the young player’s professionalism, describing him as the most diligent youngster he has observed.
As the Roosters continue their training sessions, rising star Sam Walker is advancing steadily towards a probable NRL comeback after training with Angus Crichton and the main squad on Monday. Meanwhile, Manu has shown unwavering support for Suaalii, who has faced immense pressure lately.
The Roosters have underachieved this season, adding to Suaalii’s woes. The youngster has had a tough season so far in 2023, despite supposedly earning a $700,000 salary this year, and that on top of a prospective $4.8 million rugby union move scheduled for the end of next year. The speculation of Suaalii switching codes is increasing, further fuelled by Rugby Australia’s apparent eagerness to expedite his transition.
Manu defended his young teammate who turned 20 last week, expressing his disapproval with negative press labelling Suaalii as “overhyped.” His opposition towards criticism was clear when he said, “Overhyped? That’s not fair. Especially when it’s coming from people who hype him up really,”. He shed light on Suaalii’s maturity in handling these discussions, highlighting that the prodigy often refrains from discussing his prospective switch to rugby union with his colleagues.
Manu empathised with Suaalii’s predicament, stating, “People forget how young he is and his peak is still a while away. But where he’s at in his career, it’s still so impressive.”
Recognising the immense pressure that the rookie is under, Manu frequently checks on his wellbeing. He hastened to add that Suaalii has been demonstrating exceptional maturity in handling the situation. Manu noted that Suaalii’s fortitude in dealing with the intense scrutiny has been praiseworthy, praising his young teammate for his stoicism despite the relentless public attention.
Manu, a guiding figure for Suaalii since his first-grade entry, will play side-by-side with the budding star in the centre position against the Dolphins this Saturday. Memories of Suaalii being a reserved teenager are still fresh in Manu’s mind. Reminiscing his early days at Roosters training, Manu chuckled at the transformation, saying, “Man he talks so much more than me, I think it must have been the fancy school.”
Manu commends Suaalii for his outstanding discipline and commitment, significantly unusual for his age. His meticulous approach extends from arriving early for training to making detailed notes during meetings. Manu speaks highly of Suaalii’s unusual resolve and dedication for a sportsman of his age.
On a separate note, Walker’s long road to recovery from an injured Anterior Cruciate Ligament is moving at a cautious pace, amidst fears that a surgical procedure could potentially end his season prematurely. At age 21, Walker is gradually intensifying his training regimen. However, his return to competitive play is still at least a fortnight away, expected to occur in the NSW Cup.