Schoolboy’s ‘remarkable’ contract demands
Teenage sensation Joseph Suaalii is reportedly putting the heat on South Sydney to accept some "remarkable" contract demands if the NRL club wants to keep the young gun on its books.
Suaalii, 17, remains in the middle of a high-stakes game of tug-of-war between rugby league and rugby union, with both codes desperate to sign the footy freak for the long term.
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Playing union for the prestigious Sydney private school Kings and league for the Rabbitohs' juniors, many judges have tipped the versatile back to be the next big thing in whichever sport he chooses to pursue.
There were reports earlier this year he'd backed out of a $1.7m, three-year deal with Souths to sign a $3m, three-year deal with Rugby Australia - figures that were rubbished by the 15-man-a-side game.
Now Channel 9's Danny Weidler reports Suaalii has asked the Bunnies to agree to some wild demands - for any player, let alone a schoolboy yet to make his first-grade debut - if they want to keep him out of rugby's clutches.
Suaalii, contracted to Souths next year, reportedly wants to sign a long-term deal but with get-out clauses in his favour almost every season.
"On August 31 he had a get-out clause from his 2021 South Sydney contract. He elected not to exercise that clause, so he still has a contract for 2021," Weidler said on 100% Footy.
"What he wants is a five-year deal from the Rabbitohs, but he has rejected any approach in regards to that because he wants certain clauses in that in his favour.
"It's a little bit complicated but he wants an upgraded deal for 2021, and then for 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025 to be at Souths.
"But 2022, 2023 and 2024 he wants get-out clauses in his favour."
Weidler said Souths "won't cop" the "very unusual request", before adding Suaalii has made similar demands of rugby, but for a three-year deal rather than five years.
"In rugby there's apparently a three-year offer on the table for Joseph and in that situation he wants get-out clauses in years two and three," Weidler said.
"It's quite a remarkable thing for a schoolboy to be looking at this.
"He's an extremely talented player … is it too much?"
Rugby league guru and former Penrith boss Phil Gould said there's no way he'd agree to those terms if he was in charge at Souths, because any deal would come back to haunt the club.
"It can only happen to the detriment of the club, you're putting the club in a poor position," Gould said.
"The player will only take up his option if he thinks he's not worth the money. If he thinks he's worth more he'll put himself on the market and try for a release."
Sharks premiership-winner Paul Gallen said if Suaalii is angling for get-out clauses, he should back himself to sign one-year deals and renegotiate for a better contract at the end of every season.
"If he's that confident in himself, just sign one-year deals," Gallen said. "If he's that confident in his own ability and what he can do on the field, just sign a one-year deal - you're off contract every year anyway."
Originally published as Schoolboy's 'remarkable' contract demands