MARK CARROLL: NRL Roosters Joey Manu and Joseph Suaalii will find rugby union very, very boring

Mark Carroll
The Nightly
4 Min Read
Joey Manu and Joseph Suaalii will find rugby union boring at best.
Joey Manu and Joseph Suaalii will find rugby union boring at best. Credit: Getty

So Trent Robinson is worried Joey Manu may be lost to rugby league forever.

Robbo, don’t stress it old mate.

Trust me, he’ll be back.

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Joey will take off to Japanese rugby next year and fill himself full of sashimi and yen.

It will no doubt be a fantastic experience for him and his family.

And it’ll be a real blow to the Roosters because Manu is a quality player and, from what I hear, a quality bloke.

But mark my words, he will be bored sh..less playing rugby union coming from the all-action NRL.

He will soon get sick of touching the ball five times a game and watching penalty kicks at goal along with scrum reset after scrum reset.

He’ll resent the fact the ball is in play for about 26 of the 80 minutes.

He’ll hate the relentless kicking, especially the exhilarating box kick where they reef the ball straight up in the air and hang around waiting it for it to land just so they can kick it again.

And don’t start me on rugby’s alleged defensive patterns where tacklers morph into traffic cones as soon as the heat’s applied.

Joseph Manu scores a try against the Melbourne Storm on Thursday.
Joseph Manu scores a try against the Melbourne Storm on Thursday. Credit: MARK EVANS/AAPIMAGE

The only positive is Manu will only have to endure it for 14 games a season.

Yes, that’s the length of the regular season in Japan.

What a joke. But at least the boredom is over quickly.

If I’m ever having trouble sleeping, I don’t reach for Mrs Spudd’s camomile tea to send me off to the land of nod.

I’ll simply pick up the remote and switch channels to a Super Rugby game.

Within minutes I’m stacking Zzzzz’s.

Joseph Suaalii will experience the same thing when he switches codes to play for the Waratahs and most likely the Wallabies.

He’ll have time to do the cryptic crossword by the time the ball reaches him.

He will also eventually return to rugby league, just like Wendell Sailor, Lote Tuqiri, Mat Rogers and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck did.

Sure, they got to see a bit of the world while being handsomely rewarded for it.

But unfortunately, they had to play rugby union at the same time.

It’s not just the game itself with all its design faults that gets to the league converts in the end.

It’s the void left by departing the NRL for the near anonymity of union.

Think of it as leaving the set of the Fast and the Furious and landing in Ramsay St on Neighbours.

The NRL is a fast moving, action packed, 24/7 beast.

Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii may regret choosing rugby union over league.
Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii may regret choosing rugby union over league. Credit: MARK EVANS/AAPIMAGE

It’s talked about, written about and argued about in pubs, offices and on factory floors.

People actually care how their team is going. A win or a loss can set their mood for the week.

Just imagine being a South Sydney supporter at the moment.

Your life’s a living hell until the wins start rolling in again and everything is right in the world.

In between games, there’s wall-to-wall drama.

In this past week alone, we’ve had Ricky and Des go at each other, Trent Robinson blow a fuse, James Fisher-Harris announce a shock move to the Warriors and blow-ups with the bunker.

People stop me in the street all the time and want to talk rugby league.

You just don’t get that in rugby union in Australia.

Unless it was the Wallabies bombing out of the World Cup or Eddie Jones whipping up some controversy, the sport has long struggled to spark a conversation.

It’s largely irrelevant.

Alarmingly for the code, league is making huge in-roads in New Zealand on the back of the Warriors.

The popularity of Super Rugby is on the decline and, for the first time, the All Blacks have a challenger for the country’s most popular football team.

So, to the two Joeys, I say this.

Try to enjoy your time in rugby and don’t worry about getting hurt because things rarely get too physical.

We’ll leave the key under the mat for your return in a couple of years.


When I hear people in rugby league talking about the Penrith dynasty coming to an end, I immediately think about my old coach Bob Fulton.

Bozo’s favourite saying was “Hello…?” when he heard someone utter something stupid.

And I’ve read and heard plenty of gibberish since Fisher-Harris stunned us all by announcing he was leaving the Panthers for the Warriors next season.

Apparently, his exit will spell the end of Penrith.

Apparently, they’ll no longer be challenging for titles now they’ve lost another big name.

To repeat the late, great Bozo: “Hello…?”

It was just two years ago Penrith won all four grades in the one season – SG Ball, Jersey Flegg, NSW Cup and NRL.

James Fisher-Harris will be replaced at at Penrith. The dynasty is not dead yet.
James Fisher-Harris will be replaced at at Penrith. The dynasty is not dead yet. Credit: Jenny Evans/Getty Images

That junior pathways system Phil Gould put in place years ago is still bearing fruit.

They have a clone of every player throughout the grades and still have the game’s best player in Nathan Cleary.

That’s why they lose players and someone seamlessly fills their place and hits the ground running.

There is no doubt Fisher-Harris is a terrific front-rower – just behind Payne Haas in the NRL pecking order in my opinion – and a big loss.

But so was Viliame Kikau, Matt Burton, Api Koroisau, Spencer Leniu and Stephen Crichton - yet the Panthers continue to stay ahead of the game.

That conveyor belt out west will already be churning out the next Fisher-Harris and the next Jarome Luai, who also departs next year.

Take a tip from your old mate Spudd and don’t write Penrith off – not unless you want to look like a top-tier goose.


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