Rugby league: NZ Kiwis star Joseph Manu poised to leave NRL's Sydney Roosters for lucrative code switch to French rugby

Joseph Manu.
Joseph Manu. Photo credit: Getty Images

NZ Kiwis star Joseph Manu appears all but certain to make a shock code switch to rugby.  

The Sydney Roosters sparkplug has reportedly indicated to his NRL club that he won't re-sign them, when his current deal expires at the end of this season.

According to Sydney Morning Herald, Manu has offers on the table from clubs in Japan and France. His management have been in discussions with the Rooster, who are "privately resigned" to losing his services. 

Manu, 27, is leaning towards France as his rugby destination, with deals of up to 700,000 euros (NZ$1.237m) in front of him.

The Tokoroa product says any potential switch would be permanent, ruling out any form of rugby sabbatical. Manu's management had reportedly floated the idea of signing a short deal with a Japanese rugby club from December to May to allow him to return to play out the rest of the 2025 NRL season with the Roosters.

Joseph Manu with the Roosters.
Joseph Manu with the Roosters. Photo credit: Getty Images

"I think rugby is a challenge," Manu told SMH earlier this week. "If I go to play rugby, I'm focused on rugby, not on coming back.  

"You could probably go there and come back, but the focus isn't really going there to just play for a few months and come back. It's not really that.  

"I grew up playing rugby but it's really just a case of looking at all options and that was one that was tossed up.  

"I've been at the Roosters for 10 years now. It's been a long time and I love the place. That makes it very hard to leave but we'll see what happens.

"Obviously [playing for] the All Blacks would be pretty cool. That’s a Kiwi’s dream."

In 2022, the versatile back won the Golden Boot for the best rugby league international player after his spectacular performances for NZ Kiwis at the World Cup.

He won NRL Premierships with the Roosters in 2018 and 2019 and insists he won't play for any other NRL club.

"I don't want to play against them at all. Not at all," he told SMH.

"What the club's done for me over my career, I couldn't do that. I appreciate all that help too much and I've enjoyed my time."

Manu would follow in the footsteps of teammate Joseph Suaalii, who has inked a three-year deal with Rugby Australia.

Under current NZ Rugby guidelines, Manu wouldn't be eligible for All Blacks selection unless he were contracted to a Super Rugby franchise or provincial union.