Origin call sparks no second thoughts for Suaalii

Scott Bailey |

Playing Origin for the Blues has been a dream since childhood for Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii.
Playing Origin for the Blues has been a dream since childhood for Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii.

State of Origin selection has not prompted second thoughts from Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii as he strives to emulate cross-code superstars Israel Folau and Sonny Bill Williams in proving himself as much more than a “one-trick pony”.

Addressing his looming switch from the NRL to rugby union for the first time since last year’s announcement he was heading to the NSW Waratahs in 2025, the in-demand Suaalii has detailed his lofty ambitions.

And despite many tipping the 20-year-old to make a swift comeback to rugby league, the Sydney Roosters utility remains undecided over whether he will return to the NRL as he weighs up his options beyond 2027.

Some observers believed Suaalii’s NSW selection could act as a lure to tempt him to stay in rugby league.

But the Blues centre remains steadfast in his decision to move to the 15-man code at the end of this season.

“I’ve signed my deal there. I’m committed,” Suaalii said.

“I’m always up for a challenge and I always love learning different things – I don’t want to be a one-trick pony.

“I want to learn different things and elevate my game to a point where when I finish my career I can sit down and say I gave it all.”

Suaalii said his NSW selection had fulfilled a boyhood dream – but he had a similar itch to be a cross-code star.

“I’m very driven. Ever since I was 12 or 13 I’ve always known what I want, and I know what it takes to get there,” Suaalii said.

“I always knew I wanted to debut (in the NRL) when I was 17. I wanted to play Origin one day in the Blues jumper.

“And I wanted to do a lot of things that the likes of Sonny Bill (Williams), Israel Folau – the guys I looked up to as a young kid (did).

“It’s always been a dream of mine to travel the world and play the home World Cup for the Wallabies, and the Lions tour.”

Sonny Bill Williams in action for the All Blacks.
Suaalii is keen to emulate cross-code superstar All Black Sonny Bill Williams (pictured). (Dan Peled/AAP PHOTOS)

Whether Suaalii’s path follows that of Williams in returning to rugby league after a stint in the 15-man code remains to be seen.

It’s widely thought he will be back at the Roosters after the 2027 World Cup in Australia, when his rugby deal comes to an end.

“I do a lot of things with vision boards and stuff like that, but I haven’t looked that far (ahead),” Suaalii said. 

Suaalii underlined his credentials in rugby league and insisted he  deserves to play Origin.

He has played the 13-man game since he was four years old, only trying his hand at rugby union in his school days.

The Samoa international, who has known Blues coach Michael Maguire since age 13, disagreed with any suggestion he should have been banned from Origin upon signing with union last year.

“I can understand there are always opinions,” he said. 

“(But) I’ve always loved both games. Anything with a footy in my hand I love playing.”

AAP