'One of the biggest dumb moves': Souths damned for Suaalia loss - and 'never mind' excuse

‘One of the biggest dumb moves’: Souths damned for Suaalia loss – and ‘never mind’ excuse

The Rabbitohs losing superstar young gun Joseph Suaalii to the Roosters will “go down as one of the biggest dumb moves in South Sydney history” and an embarrassing example of “salary cap mismanagement”.

With the two fierce rivals set to clash in a sold-out opener at the new Allianz Stadium this weekend, Suaalii will meet his old team for the first time in the NRL.

The former Souths junior has been snapped up by Sydney in 2020 after contract negotiations dragged on for months – with Rugby Australia also in the hunt for his signature.

Former Rabbitohs football boss Shane Richardson told News Corp this week the club “couldn’t match” the Roosters’ offer – and didn’t want to pay because superstar Latrell Mitchell owned the number one jersey.

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Richardson said, “And we had Latrell Mitchell. Always wanted to play full back. We would have liked to keep him, but at the end of the day we felt we could use the money elsewhere to have a more rounded side.

“We didn’t want him to leave, but the Roosters offered him too much money and we couldn’t match them. He’s a crazy athlete, no doubt about it.”

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But veteran rugby league journalist Paul Kent rubbished the claims, telling NRL 360: “I don’t understand it. They mismanaged the cap. There is no way to let a guy like that go. They invested a lot of money in him and when they finally got to the point where they were going to get a dividend from it, they let him go. They let the Roosters of all clubs poach him.

“It’s going to be one of the biggest dumb moves in South Sydney history that they let the lad go.”

“I was shocked by that,” Braith Anasta replied.

The Daily Telegraph’s senior league journalist Paul Crawley said: “They’ve kept the players that Suaalii has now passed on. He was always destined – this guy is destined for greatness. So if you can keep him at your club, you keep him… this is a guy you’d move heaven and earth to keep.”

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While Richardson noted that Mitchell was a lock in the full-back role at Souths, the Roosters had a similarly world-class player in James Tedesco in that role. Still, 19-year-old Suaalii has become a regular on the right wing as he continues his rapid rise.

Kent stated: “They (Sydney) found a way to make it work … for South Sydney to sit there and offer this excuse that they had Latrell at full-back so they had nowhere else to play (him), it just doesn’t work. cut it.”

Dave Riccio responded: “Definitely cap issues. It must be problems with the caps, poor management of the cap.’

Kent continued, “It’s poor management. The other part of it is that when you have these players who have gilded futures in front of them, you find a way to keep him at your club.

“They could have got him for less to stay, whatever the Roosters are paying him would be more than what South Sydney were paying him. They could have made him stay, but they let him go. To get a player of his caliber back, you have to pay a lot more than what they are paying him now.”

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Riccio also dismissed Rugby Australia’s reported bid to lure Suaalii, a talented rugby player from King’s School who represented the NSW Schoolboys and then the Australian Schoolboys U18 Rugby Sevens.

The Daily Telegraph reported today that Suaalii tops the list of NRL RA stars who could make the Wallabies, with the 2025 British and Irish Lions tour and the 2027 World Cup in Australia on the horizon. The report raised the prospect of a whopping $2 million a year for five years.

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But Riccio shot down the news, saying: “How embarrassing for Australian rugby union. These guys sit in their own nest like schoolboys. They have the opportunity to develop these players into rugby players in the moment.

“So now Suaalii’s offer of two million dollars a season is being discussed after you had him in your back pocket as a schoolboy!” It’s a farce. It’s embarrassing that the Roosters, an NRL club, do a better job of identifying talent than the entire code.”

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