Souths’ owner Russell Crowe has broken his silence on teenage superstar Joseph Suaalii’s defection to arch rivals the Roosters on a deal worth the same money he was on at Souths.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported the Hollywood mega star was confused why the 17-year-old — who made an explosive pre-season debut — decided to accept a similar offer at a rival club.
“Does it hurt? It’s a little perplexing, shall we say,” Crowe said.
“I just hope Joseph is in a place where he’s comfortable and where he can play his best football.
“I think he’s a good kid. We’re not quite sure what the difference is between our dollars and somebody else’s dollars, because theoretically the figures are the same. Who knows?”
Suaalii — who is set to start in reserve grade — was offered a contract extension worth $1.7 million at Souths. But the club ultimately baulked at his management’s attempts to put get-out clauses in his contract.
Joseph Suaaliiis tackled during the NSW Cup Trial Match between the North Sydney Bears and the Canberra Raiders at Seiffert Oval. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Crowe had Suaalii and his family up to his farm during the negotiation process, but denied having any direct involvement with contract talks for Suaalii or any other Souths’ player.
“He’s a great kid,” Crowe said.
“Met his mum and sister, they came up to the farm. But there’s a complete misunderstanding with what I do at the club.
“I have never negotiated a contract with the player at any time. The questions I ask are more about culture.
“They’re the conversations I have with players. When it comes down to the deal-making, I don’t have anything to do with it.”
Russell Crowe is perplexed. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)Source:AAP
Suaalii’s attempts to have get-out clauses inserted in his contract were seen as the final straw for Souths, before the prodigy was wooed by the Roosters and Trent Robinson, with Sonny Bill Williams also involved in the Tricolours’ pitch.
Souths’ coach Wayne Bennett reportedly told sources close to him that the pursuit of Suaalii became “too hard”.
The Roosters accepted Suaalii’s contractual conditions in the hope that Robinson and the club’s culture could make it very difficult to leave after two seasons.
Time will tell if the Rabbitohs live to regret not doing more to keep him.
Originally published asRussell Crowe breaks silence on snub
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