NRL: South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett says Joseph Suaalii's contract demands have ended talks to re-sign him
Teen sensation Joseph Suaalii is hot property, but he may not re-sign with South Sydney after his request for get-out clauses was knocked back by the Rabbitohs.
Suaalii is already signed to a three-year deal, but he recently asked for a five-year deal with get-out clauses to allow him to play rugby union.
The teen sensation is also a talented rugby player that has attracted significant interest from Rugby Australia.
Suaalii had knocked back rugby to focus on re-signing with Souths, but negotiations have stalled.
Bennett believes the Rabbitohs could still snare the gun fullback’s signature, but it’s an outside chance at this point.
“I don’t think either parties have closed the door, but certainly at this point in time he is not coming here,” Bennett said.
“We thought it was a very good offer and there are a lot of things going on for him.
“They came back with some conditions. It may not be final yet, but it certainly is from our point of view at the moment.”
Suaalii’s contract talks have been played out in public, largely due to the interest around the rising back’s ability.
The Penrith junior is a gifted athlete in multiple sports, including league, union, and basketball.
Bennett understands that Suaalii will attract attention, but he wanted any deal talks to held behind closed doors.
“We would have preferred to do all contracts and major decisions in-house without everybody finding a back page somewhere,” he said.
“The fact is, we have been keen on him for 12 to 18 months and it just hasn’t worked out.
“I was at the Broncos for a number of years and we got deals done there without being a headline every day, and they were as talented as Joseph is.”
In other news, Bennett has kept the door open to coach Queensland in November’s Origin series should current mentor Kevin Walters become the new Brisbane coach.
The supercoach confirmed he has spoken to QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher about the Maroons job.
“Bruce made a statement a couple of weeks ago, which I didn’t know anything about,” he said.
“I gave him a quick phone call. It is not something I’m going to have difficulty with, but while Kevin has the job, I’m not trying to take the job off him.
“If they make another decision and I’m on the shortlist, I’m happy to be there.”
There has long been a belief in Origin that the state coaches should be separate from the NRL, but Bennett doesn’t agree.
“In my opinion that has been one of the biggest mistakes made in football over a long period of time,” he said.
“You want the best players and you want the best coaches available.
“That was a path they went down some time ago. That is their decision, but I don’t necessarily agree with that point of view.”