source : www.foxsports.com.au
The St George Illawarra Dragons are on the verge of completing a bold $5 million mega deal for Sydney Roosters and New Zealand superstar center Joey Manu.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that new Dragons coach Shane Flanagan is interested in luring Manu to the club as a full-back.
“I think he would be huge for our club,” Flanagan told The Herald.
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Manu is one of almost 200 players out of contract in 2024 and free to negotiate with rival clubs for 2025 and beyond as the November 1 deadline approaches.
Jarome Luai, Ezra Mam, Tom Dearden, Tohu Harris, Brandon Smith, Adam Reynolds, Angus Crichton, Bradman Best and Luke Keary are some of the big names available, but there is probably no bigger star on the market than Manu.
The Dragons are willing to pay a seven-figure fee and offer Manu the chance to play fullback if he seriously considers a move.
The deal would be worth as much as $1.2 million per season for four years, which would make Manu one of the game’s highest-paid stars annually.
“From what I see when he plays fullback, his involvement is huge. I think he could make a real fist of it,” Flanagan said.
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‘I’d like to have it, but I just don’t know if it’s going to move. At the end of the day, it’s not us, it’s not the Roosters, it’s just what Joey wants to do.
“I know he loves the Roosters, I know Nick (Roosters chairman Nick Politis) loves him. Does he want to leave and try his hand at full-back? Obviously he won’t be able to play too much there.”
The Dragons have Tyrell Sloan and possibly Zac Lomax at fullback, while Cody Ramsey looks to return from an illness that will rule him out of the 2023 season.
The Roosters are well stocked with full-back options, with captain James Tedesco signed until the end of 2025, while Manu and Joseph Suaalii are other options in 2024 if injuries occur.
Manu is seen as a potential replacement for Tedesco at full-back when he hangs up the boots while Suaalii heads to rugby union for a three-year, $5 million mega-dela of his own in 2025.
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Manu can also play at five-eighth and has filled in at number 1 and number 6 for the Tri-colours and New Zealand in the past with great success.
The 27-year-old was pursued hard by the Warriors the last time he signed his contract with the carrot of a million per season to replace full-back Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who switched to rugby union.
However, Manu chose to remain loyal to the Roosters and the club and player have seen him as a one-club man who will end his career with the Tri-colours in the past.
However, the Roosters may not have the money in their salary cap to compete with the Dragons’ deal and Manu may have to make another financial sacrifice to remain at the Bondi club.
Manu has scored 59 tries in 158 NRL matches for the Roosters since his debut in 2016 and won two premierships with the club in 2018 and 2019, while also scoring six tries in 16 tests for the Kiwis.
Manu will play Australia in the Pacific Championship final in central New Zealand on Saturday.
source : www.foxsports.com.au