Joseph Manu torn between staying at the Sydney Roosters or switching to rugby


“I grew up playing rugby but it’s really just a case of looking at all options and that was one that was tossed up.

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“I’ve been at the Roosters for 10 years now. It’s been a long time and I love the place. That makes it very hard to leave but we’ll see what happens.”

Manu’s status as the NRL’s best centre, as well as an elite fullback and handy five-eighth, prompted Shane Flanagan to publicly target him as the foundation of his Dragons rebuild.

St George Illawarra were willing to spend around $1.2 million a season across a four-year deal to lure Manu out of red, white and blue, but their interest has never progressed beyond that.

Manu has made clear he has no intention of playing against Trent Robinson’s side. In 2021 the Golden Boot winner held talks with Super Rugby’s Waikato Chiefs before re-signing with the Roosters, and once again rugby is the only competition for his services.

“I don’t want to play against them at all. Not at all. What the club’s done for me over my career, I couldn’t do that,” Manu said.

Manu has no interest in playing against the Roosters.Credit: Getty

“I appreciate all that help too much and I’ve enjoyed my time. I’d like to stay, that’s the priority and we’ll see what happens with the other options.

“Robbo’s very open, he’s a very good man and he just wants what’s best for you. I want the best for myself and my family, and the Roosters too.

“Whatever happens, it has to be good for everyone, so we had those open conversations and now it’s up to my manager. [Rugby] is still just an option at this stage. But I’m at the point where it’s time to look at those options in both codes. I played both codes growing up.

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“And in terms of rugby league, I want to be a Rooster. That’s where my head is at and playing rugby league is what I’m focusing on.”

That includes a starring role in potentially the tallest back line on record, with Dominic Young (200cm), Daniel Tupou and Joseph Suaalii (196cm) all shading Manu, who stands at 192cm.

Robinson has regularly given Manu a roving remit to maximise his talent given James Tedesco is entrenched at fullback, and Manu has targeted these involvements, as well as his defensive decisions, as his biggest areas for improvement in 2024.

“Defensively is where I want to get better,” Manu said. “I feel like there’s a lot of improvement in me on an edge, and as a player in that part of the team. There’s another step there for me in terms of my best, chasing those moments in games.

“Teddy is that player for us who can break a game right open. I want to help him out with that, take that pressure off him. I want that to be my role.”

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