Joey Manu could be playing rugby in France or Japan next year

Sydney Roosters’ NRL star Joey Manu has hinted he may be moving to rugby union at the end of 2024.

The rugby league player has spoken about reports he has received big money offers to switch codes to play the 15-a-side game in Japan and France.

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“I’ve been here for a long time now and the Roosters is pretty much home for me… if I’m playing rugby league, I’m here at the Roosters,” Manu told 9 News.

“I’m not too sure what I will end up doing, but rugby is a challenge and it’s something different, something new. If I go and play rugby, I will be focused on rugby – not really going and coming back sort of thing.

“It’s the option to try and challenge myself. I think for any player, that’s where they grow as a player and a person.”

The challenge of a new professional sport is not the only reported draw for Manu, he also revealed a desire to play for the All Blacks. The Hamilton-born 27-year-old, who won the Golden Boot – the award for international rugby league’s best player – in 2022, added: “Obviously [playing for] the All Blacks would be pretty cool. That’s a Kiwi’s dream.”

Joey Manu: Who could replace him at the Roosters?

Manu won the NRL with the Roosters in 2018 and 2019 but grew up playing rugby union so would not be a beginner when it comes to the game, if he was to change tack. He will hope to follow in the footsteps of fellow NRL superstar Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, another former Roosters player, who quit NZ Warriors in league for the Blues and ended up becoming an All Black before returning to the NRL and the Warriors for the 2024 season.

The Roosters are already losing wonderkid Joseph Sua’ali’i, 20, to Australian rugby at the end of the 2024 NRL season after he was poached by the Waratahs. However, Roosters Trent Robinson has recruited from union himself, luring Australia’s Mark Nawaqanitawase to the Eastern Suburbbs on a two-year deal from 2025.

Nawaqanitawase’s arrival will also help soften the blow if Manu’s departure is confirmed. After making his controversial decision to switch codes, Nawaqanitawase’s agent Andrew Fairbairn said: “At 23, Mark feels now is the best time to stay in Australia, but have a new experience in the Roosters program for 2025 and 2026.

“[Roosters coach] Trent Robinson has a long line of success with working with rugby union talent – which ultimately was the catalyst in Mark’s decision.”

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