Robinson confident Manu will return after code switch

Scott Bailey |

Sydney Roosters star Joey Manu is keen to live abroad and go back to playing rugby union.
Sydney Roosters star Joey Manu is keen to live abroad and go back to playing rugby union.

Trent Robinson is confident Joey Manu will return to the Sydney Roosters after his code switch, while all but conceding the star centre will leave the NRL at the end of this year.

Manu is yet to sign with an overseas rugby club for next year, but has made clear to Robinson his desire to live abroad and try his hand at the 15-man game.

That code switch is expected to come next year with a move to France, with Manu off contract at the Roosters at the end of this season.

Robinson has made a point not to try to talk Manu out of the move.

The 27-year-old played rugby union while growing up in New Zealand, and has long flirted with the idea of making a shift back to the code.

Despite that, Robinson is confident Manu will one day return to the NRL with the Roosters.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson
Roosters coach Trent Robinson is confident Joey Manu will eventually return to the club. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

“He hasn’t said that (he’ll be back), but I know that (he will),” the Roosters coach said.

“He has been here since he was a kid. He wants to go and experience another country. He grew up playing union, so he wants to do that. 

“But I just know he’s a Rooster at the same time. Now that may not end up being that way, but I feel like it will.”

Robinson said he had been aware of Manu’s position since last year, and was at ease with the situation.

“He’s spoken of his desire and he’s been really open with me about what he’s thought,” Robinson said. 

“I’ll always support him and others.

“I think that’s pretty clear (he’s leaving after this season), but the deal hasn’t been done yet.

“It’s not about talking him out (of the move). I don’t need to convince him of anything. It’s his decision. 

“He knows there’s an opportunity here for next year, but I’m giving some freedom to him to make that choice.”

Manu’s exit will coincide with Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii’s highly publicised code switch, after he agreed to a three-year, $5 million deal last March.

But Robinson said the impending moves would not be held against the pair this year, as a backline squeeze looms at the Roosters, with six big names fighting to fill five spots.

“They’re here now and I respect them,” Robinson said.

“(Dropping them for leaving) is not who I am or what I’m going to do.”

Instead, Robinson said he would rotate through the group, which includes Manu, Suaalii, James Tedesco, Daniel Tupou, Billy Smith and gun recruit Dom Young.

“If all six are available that might be a set (team). One of those guys is not going to not play for 10 rounds, that’s for sure,” Robinson said.

“Some guys will play some weeks and some won’t, but there’s a belief in all of them that it’s not one over the other. That’s on me.

“I’ve been really open about putting the guys in different positions because you can’t fix on five because six of them are so good.

“Eventually you have to pick a team for each week, but there won’t be someone missing out for long.” 

AAP