Wallabies coach Eddie Jones is preaching peace – not war – with rugby league rivals as he patiently awaits Joseph Suaalii's switch to rugby union. The Wallabies coach will happily take the Roosters superstar ahead of time but won't be picking a fight with rugby league to make it happen.
Suaalii is not due to change codes until 2025 but speculation emerged this week he could be packing his bags this year on the back of some indifferent form at the Roosters.
Outspoken Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan declared his organisation had the money "to take Suaalii now", while describing the Roosters' treatment of the teenager as "nothing short of horrible" and questioning if the club was experiencing salary cap issues.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson shut down talk of an early release and Jones is more than comfortable biding his time for a player rated a once-in-a-generation talent.
"I try to keep out of all the nonsense in the paper, but when you’re a good player that (speculation and interest) comes with the territory and you've got to be able to cope. You need good people around you," Jones told Yahoo Sport Australia.
"It doesn't really concern me – I'm only concerned with the (2023) World Cup. Whatever happens to him post the World Cup…if he comes to rugby in 2024 that's fantastic and we'll see whether he can make the grade."
Wallabies great's surprise call on Joseph Suaalii
Suaalii had another quiet game in the Roosters' heavy loss to Penrith on Friday night, increasing the pressure on the teenage sensation. But Wallabies great Tim Horan urged the 19-year-old to see out his time in the NRL, believing he will benefit from two more years under Robinson.
"Let Joseph keep playing rugby league. They're both very good games - rugby league and rugby union – and we'll be ready for him when he comes," Horan said.
"Trent's a very astute coach and I like the way he talks. Joseph will come when he's ready and that'll be at the end of next year."
Jones, meanwhile, is not reading too much into the future of destructive Brisbane forward Payne Haas, who is also being targeted by Rugby Australia.
The success rate of league forwards making it in union is not high and may be the deciding factor in whether RA launch a serious bid.
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