Manu can’t see himself back at Sydney Roosters in 2025

Scott Bailey |

Sydney Roosters star Joey Manu is putting no time limits on his looming stint in rugby union.
Sydney Roosters star Joey Manu is putting no time limits on his looming stint in rugby union.

Joey Manu has all but ruled out returning to the Sydney Roosters in 2025, with the superstar centre keen to have more than six months to explore his potential in rugby union.

Manu will leave the Roosters at season’s end to take up a one-season deal with Japanese rugby club Toyota Verblitz, as he makes a jump to the 15-man game.

Theoretically, Manu could return to the Roosters by next June, with the final for Japanese Rugby One played in late May in Tokyo.

Manu is headed to Japanese rugby club Toyota Verblitz after the NRL season. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

That would create a bargain scenario for the Roosters, who could play Manu at five-eighth or centre at a reduced rate in their salary cap with the season part complete.

There have been suggestions the Roosters could keep cash free in their roster for that eventuality, while also giving them room to move if a big-name player becomes free in 2025.

But Manu himself said that situation is extremely unlikely.

“I highly, highly doubt it,” Manu said when asked if he could be back at the Roosters in 2025. 

“Maybe somewhere longer (down the road).

“I probably need a little bit more than six months over there. Going to Japan is a good experience for myself and my family. Just enjoying something different. 

“Six months over there is just learning the game. That’s the next step that I want to take. 

“I really want to do my best in rugby union. I feel like I’ll need a bit longer than six months. But we’ll see how it goes.”

Manu said he, Luke Keary, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii had not spent much time speaking about their collective exits at year’s end, or the added 2024 premiership motivations that come with it.

Manu will likely have a better picture of his All Blacks hopes by next June, ahead of the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia.

In order to be picked by New Zealand, he must be playing in Super Rugby. It means his Japanese stint is his best chance to impress potential suitors.

Regardless, the 27-year-old said it had not yet sunk in that he would be leaving the Roosters within the next four months after first playing for the club’s junior sides in 2013.

“It’s going to be different. I’ve been here for 10 years … But I’ve just got to enjoy every day (left),” Manu said.

“I don’t really have a plan (on whether I’ll back in the NRL) to be honest. I’m just going to go over there and try my best, give it a crack. Just ride the wave. 

“I’m not too sure where I end up. But obviously this club means a lot to me. Hopefully somewhere down the line I’ll come back here.”