Joey Manu considering shock code switch to rugby union

Julian Miller
By:
Julian Miller
28/12/2023
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Roosters Joey Many considering code switch

Manu could make more than $1.5 million a season by playing rugby union in Japan.  

News Insights

  • Joey Manu’s contract with Roosters expires at the end of the 2024 NRL season.
  • Manu could leave the NRL to play rugby in Japan.
  • Japanese clubs could offer more than $1.5 million per year.
  • St. George Illawarra Dragons are also interested in Manu.

Joey Manu could be on his way out of the NRL. The Daily Telegraph has published a bombshell report saying that the Roosters super star is considering a code switch and a potential short-term stint playing rugby in Japan. Manu’s contract with Roosters expires at the end of the 2024 NRL season.

$1.5 million per year contract waiting in Japan

Joey Manu is one of the best players in the NRL, playing for one of the top clubs in the country’s biggest city. According to recent reports, the former Golden Boot winner is willing to walk away from all of that. A big pay raise could be the reason why Manu is willing to walk away.  
 
Reportedly, Manu could make upwards of $1.5 million a season in Japan. Roosters and any other NRL club interested in Manu could only offer him about $1.3 million per year. 
 
Another reason Manu might be interested in moving to Japan is because of the Japanese league’s schedule. The Japanese rugby season runs from December and May. If Manu signs just a one-year contract with a Japanese side, he will be able rejoin Roosters midway through their 2025 NRL season.  
 
If Manu goes that route and signs a short contract with a Japanese rugby team, he could make more than $2 million between both codes in the 2025 calendar year. However, this kind of deal is subject to approval by the NRL.  
 
Because Manu will be out of contract after the 2025 season, the NRL cannot stop him from playing in Japan, like they did with Wests Tigers’ Benji Marshall a decade ago. The issue for Manu would be whether the NRL would allow him to rejoin Roosters midway through the season. The NRL could view Manu’s move as circumventing the league’s salary cap.  

Manu’s other options  

One way Manu could avoid testing the NRL’s salary rules is by staying in the NRL and not going to Japan. Despite all the recent speculation, staying in the NRL is a very real possibility for Manu.  
 
Roosters and the 27-year-old Kiwi have been working on a new, long-term contract extension for weeks. There are no solid reports on how much money Roosters are able to offer Manu, but most NRL experts think they cannot offer more than $1.3 million per season.  
 
$1.3 million per season is also what St. George Illawarra Dragons can reportedly offer Manu. Dragons, like many NRL clubs this time of year, are in the midst of a rebuild. Signing Manu would be a huge statement of intent, should they get the deal done.  

Roosters narrowly qualified for the Finals Series last season, but the betting sites are expecting a much better campaign this year. Sydney are third favourites to win the Premiership this year and a virtual lock to make the top 8.