Australia: Rugby Australia interested in rugby league teenager Joseph Suaalii

Teenage rugby league sensation Joseph Suaalii has caught the eye of Rugby Australia (RA) after bursting onto the scene in the NRL.

Suaalii has enjoyed a prolific rookie season for the Roosters, scoring 16 tries in 23 appearances and drawing comparisons to Israel Folau, all at the tender age of 19.

Reported contract “fanciful”

Reports suggested RA were willing to offer the starlet a $10 million contract over five years to coax Suaalii into switching codes, but chairman Hamish McLennan rubbished the rumoured figure.

“The numbers being thrown about are fanciful,” McLennan told Fox Sports.

NRL chairman Peter V’landys highlighted union’s shortcomings and claimed the teenager would not get as much opportunity due to more players on the field and more time with the ball out of play.

“I don’t think Suaalii would go to rugby because he would be bored,” V’landys told News Corp.

“At the moment in rugby union, the ball is in play for 33 minutes a game where in rugby league it’s in play for 55 minutes. They (Rugby Australia) will get a short-term sugar hit but long-term, what’s it going to achieve? Nothing. Offering that kind of money to Suaalii, there is no long-term benefit.”

McLennan acknowledges where league has done well but highlighted how the 15-man code is more popular globally.

“We’ve obviously struck a nerve,” he said.

“No doubt rugby league has done a much better job than us over the last 20 years, but more people play and watch rugby globally.

“For the Japanese World Cup, over 850 million people tuned into the tournament – they would disagree with that comment.

“Whilst (NRL chief executive) Andrew Abdo would never admit it, my hunch is that he’d prefer the Springboks over rugby league.”

Open to another league convert

Wallabies flanker Jed Holloway is open to the idea of coaxing Suaalii to hope codes as Australia has seen many great successes, including the red hot Marika Koroibete.

“If it is going to make our team better, I think would be great,” Holloway told reporters.

“He’s quite a talented person, obviously he’s killing it in rugby league and he is quite young.

“We do have really good guys here in the team who you see – Marika (Koroibete) on the weekend, Tommy Wright, Andrew Kellaway, Jordie Petaia all coming through as well.

“We’ve got a huge amount of depth but if it’s going to make us be better and help win a World Cup, then why not?”

READ MORE: Wallabies: The lineout is a key work-on after poor execution against the Springboks in Adelaide

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