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Opinion Joseph Suaalii is being set up to fail

League Unlimited News

Staff member
OPINION: Joseph Suaalii is being set up to fail
Robert Crosby | March 1 2021 7:58AM

I worry about the level of attention being afforded to Joseph Suaalii.

I accept the NRL, broadcasters and media have a vested interest in promoting the game, but in the case of a teenager who until this weekend had only shown talent playing against other teenagers, there appears to be a severe lack of interest in ensuring his welfare.

The way Suaalii has been covered has been nothing short of irresponsible. Never before has an untested NRL player - who is legally a child - received such a disproportionate level of attention.

Off the back of a flashy highlights reel and a media appetite for content that can never be satisfied, Suaalii has been thrust onto a podium of clickbait journalism alongside the likes of Latrell Mitchell and Cameron Smith.

When have you ever heard of a reserve grade trial being live-streamed solely for the purpose of promoting a player who has yet to play first grade? As I write these words the absurdity of the situation becomes greater and greater.

As far as asinine coverage goes it is rivalled only by Fox League's Hayne Cam and Channel 9 airing an internal monologue from Sonny Bill Williams during his return to rugby league.

Suaalii may be physically capable of playing rugby league at a professional level this year, but mentally he cannot possibly be prepared for the hyper-intense scrutiny that is set to come his way.

His performance for North Sydney over the weekend was not without praise. He produced an early defensive effort to prevent a try that spoke more of his ability than the two he scored.

But it was one game.

Will he be able to live up to the hype when he requires a painkilling injection to get on the field for a match that has no bearing on the ladder?

When the day inevitably comes where he has a shocker, how soon will the fawning attention he is currently receiving turn to vitriol? He won't merely have an "off night", he'll be decried as "overrated, overpaid and reading into his own hype"...

Read the rest of the column here.


One line nailed it , mentally ready . Different era when the likes of Fittler hit the scene with less media scrutiny . Players that are in their late 20s can’t handle the scrutiny , look at the baby broncos the past 24 months as example

Anyway this kid reminds me of SBW and foloau , first opportunity he will go to rival code , let him pay his dues and start at 18 don’t give him exemptions already


He and his management team have brought much of this scrutiny on themselves the way they carried on negotiations with Souths. If he can't handle it, too bad.

On a pure footballing front, the kid looks good. Scored a couple of tries that looked as good as everyone else's tries on the weekend. Made one decent read in defence and did very little of the dirty work lugging the ball out of their own end.


They’ve brought it on themselves.

He wants an exemption to play NRL because he is supposedly the best 17 year old ever.

The Roosters and his management have told us he is the Second Coming of Christ and I’m inclined to believe them.

Cant wait to watch this guy smash merkins, or run around them, or chip over them- whatever it is that he does.

Captain Apollo

First Grade
They’ve brought it on themselves.

He wants an exemption to play NRL because he is supposedly the best 17 year old ever.

The Roosters and his management have told us he is the Second Coming of Christ and I’m inclined to believe them.

Cant wait to watch this guy smash merkins, or run around them, or chip over them- whatever it is that he does.

I would not put it as much on the Roosters as Souths were the one who had been talking about to the NRL about getting him an exemption in the first place.


Going from schoolboy to NRL is a huge step up.

Being in a good team will help, the Roosters will ease him in on the wing or something later this year.

This Year?

So the media are the ones to build him up and are the ones to set him up to fail?
Every player can have a career ending injury at any time. Just let the kid get to 18 and enjoy the small time left of his childhood before the ridiculous amount of scrutiny will come over the money spent on him.


When was the 18 year old rule even brought in? Only a few years back right?

guy is no more set up to fail that Latrell was when he was coming into the grade, or any number of other blokes. If he crumbles it will be on him, not because the media made him play bad.

Personally I think it was a hell of a risk for the roosters to sign him, although at least the kid seemingly is backing himself by preferring a short term deal that we offered over being locked into a long contract like Souths wanted. So if he fizzles the experiment will be over quickly (and if he succeeds he’ll have a chance to earn big bucks quickly).

tell you what though, if the media are concerned about his welfare, they could always just stop reporting on his every bowel movement.


First Grade
Whilst we can debate the if 'You're old enough, if you're good enough" mentality with merit for both sides of the argument, my understanding was that the rule was brought in as a duty of care to the younger, underdeveloped player.

Wade Graham is a prime example of how an early entry into the NRL can have long term effects on the body. In a recent article he states the impacts it had on him, bearing in mind he started in the halves.

"The attitude back then was 'if you're good enough, you're old enough'. I look back at my time when I came through and it was too early for me. My body wasn't ready for it.

"I had shoulder surgery the next season because of the damage the game brought about on my body.

"I spent the next 12 months in the gym trying to build up to be strong enough to play the week in week out grind in the NRL.

"It's not so much the one game here or there that takes its toll but the continuous grind, playing against the opposition who are big, strong and constantly challenging you physically."


The NRL made the rule, stick to it and demonstrate that irrespective of how good you are, there are rules and procedures in place to mitigate against unnecessary issues.

Even though he is 17 and its a matter of months till he is 18, the rules are there. The club then takes over the management of his workload and it is then their responsibility.

I'd be stoked if I was a 17 year old with a contract and a pathway to First Grade. To me, that's a massive achievement and I'd be happy to go through the motions and gain the experience before getting my debut.

Lemon Squash

First Grade
The media circus has been extraordinary, yes the Suuali team has brought a lot of it on themselves with their ridiculous demands but for whatever reason the media had already latched onto him like a leech.

They might as well let him play at 17 now, all this shit that has gone on around him it would be impossible for it to have not effected him mentally already. He’s either going to be cocky as all hell or he’s going to have the weight of the world on his shoulders.

There’s been plenty of boom kids that have gone bust when it comes to the big leagues, none of them have had the same kind of pressure this kid will have faced though.

I wish him well, the game needs as many superstars as possible. However naturally being a merkin a big part of me wouldn’t mind seeing him fail chewing up a big slice of the Chooks cap.

10$ Ferret

Staff member
The hype is ridiculous and got worse after his first game against men.
The idiot journalists that were saying he set the world on fire and and outstanding were just kidding themselves and probably didn't even watch the game. OR they may have been the same ones that kept called Sam Walker in the Norths game (he didn't play in it at all)

He was solid scored one try that anyone's grandma could have scored and another where he showed some hand footwork. He showed me he was nearly ready for NSW Cup. If he was ready for NSW cup he would not have suffered the cramps he did. His body may not be ready for 80 mins at this level let alone NRL.

So his mental readiness may not matter if his body isn't ready

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