Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan has confirmed a massive bid to poach Sydney Roosters star Joseph Swaalia, with the 18-year-old starlet seen as a top priority for the Wallabies.
foxsports.com.au It was revealed two weeks ago that Suaalii was on the “shot list” of NRL rugby players in Australia that the Wallabies are hoping to convince to change codes ahead of the 2027 World Cup, and Matt Burton is also on the Bulldogs’ radar.
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Suaali was a prominent high school rugby prospect before he turned down rugby to join the Roosters in a major deal, and the NRL changed its rules to allow him to make his high school debut before he turned 18.
In just his second season, he became the star of the club, and this year he also earned a spot on the NSW Blues Origin team.
Now McLennan told Australian that Suaali is at the top of a wallaby’s wish list.
“We were sad to lose Joseph in the league, but there is an incredible path to the 2027 Rugby World Cup if he and others want it,” McLennan said.
“We have to do a private equity deal, get some money in the bank, but yes, we will definitely target league stars.”
Suaali is stuck on the Roosters’ right flank but has made it clear he hopes to become the club’s future defender, although club captain James Tedesco and Kiwi international defender Joey Manu stand in his way.
“I’m happy to do anything for the team, whether it’s on the wing, in the middle, at the back, even in fifth eighth – I’ll play anywhere,” Swaaali said a week ago. “I’m behind the two best cornerbacks in the game, Tedesco and Joey, so it’s going to be difficult for me to play fullback.”
But when asked about the prospect of switching clubs to play as a defender, Suaali replied: “I love it here and if I could, I would be here forever – I love this club.”
However, despite Swaalia’s contract with Blue remaining for two years, Swaalia’s contract reportedly includes an exit clause at the end of each season, allowing him to switch clubs or codes.
And with the 2025 British & Irish Lions Tour and the 2027 World Cup approaching, Rugby Australia is hoping Swaalii can headline a replay of the 2003 Wallabies World Cup, which saw several league stars jump ship for the tournament on home soil. .
In this tournament, Wendell Sailor, Lote Tukiri and Mat Rogers were represented by the Wallabies, all of whom were poached from the NRL.
Sailor said Australian that Swaalia is no problem for a wallaby.
“I’ve seen what he’s done this year for the Roosters and he’s just a next level weapon,” Sailor said.
“Yeah, I just think, like everyone else, rugby union (should) be very smart about who they go after… but I just think Swaalii, that’s not a problem.
“He will play anywhere in the Wallabies back line… You can build a team around him and he can be there for a very long time in any code.
“But obviously Wallaby, we shouldn’t have lost to England this year, but if you have someone like (Swaalia), he’s your X factor. You pay money for your X factors. He’s already proven himself, he made the New South Wales Origin team at the age of 18.”
Originally published as Wallabies eyeing massive bid for Joseph Sualiya, contract clause could lead to code swap