Wests Tigers teen Mosese Suli signs record-breaking $1.3 million NRL deal
Mosese Suli has just become the highest-paid player yet to play NRL.
The teenager, considered one of the most promising youngsters in the game, signed a three-year extension, believed to be worth $1.3 million, on Friday to remain at Wests Tigers. The deal is all the more remarkable given he has made just two National Youth Competition appearances, neither of which he was able to finish due to back issues.
For most fans, Suli is the hottest young talent they have never heard of. But astute football judges are aware of his potential and were desperate for his signature.
Canterbury coach Des Hasler and Melbourne counterpart Craig Bellamy personally made pitches to sign Suli. However, the Tigers pulled off a coup via an unprecedented deal that also provides the 18-year-old with an upgrade for the current season.
“It’s exciting,” Suli told Fairfax Media. "In my head, I never wanted to leave the Tigers.
"They’ve given me a chance since I was 15. They’re a great bunch of boys, they’re easy to get along with.
“It feels good to get it sorted.”
The contract is considered the most lucrative of its kind, pipping the $900,000 deal David Klemmer signed with the Bulldogs before he made first grade.
Suli would have been tempted to join the Bulldogs himself, having grown up as a Canterbury supporter, however, the gun centre opted to stay put and will be rewarded with an Auckland Nines spot despite not being named in the original Tigers line-up for the pre-season event.
The tournament will give fans the first chance to see what all the fuss is about.
“I can’t wait to get out there,” Suli said. “I just want to make my debut in the NRL this year and make the Junior Kangaroos and State of Origin 20s.”
Suli has made the most of the few opportunities he’s had to showcase his talent. The Westfield Sports High School product would have been a certain selection for the Australian Schoolboys and junior NSW State of Origin teams if not for injuries that ruled him out of not only the majority of those fixtures but also the GIO Cup and almost an entire NYC season.
Even the man himself was somewhat surprised by his market value after barely playing above SG Ball level.
“I didn’t expect this after two half-games [of NYC],” Suli said.
"It’s a bit of pressure. All I want to do is get out there and play. It’s been good to have [manager] Mario [Tartak] to help me out, it makes it so much easier.
“I’d like to be able to set up my family long-term.”
Having won the tug of war for Suli, the Tigers have turned their attention to securing the rest of their off-contract stars. The priority will be retaining James Tedesco, Aaron Woods, Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks, all of whom are likely to attract significant interest from rivals.
The key quartet is expected to delay any decision on their futures until after the season begins as the club decides whether to offer coach Jason Taylor a contract extension.
Moses and Tedesco have just been added to a seven-man leadership group that now includes captain Woods, vice-captains Chris Lawrence and Matt Ballin, Tim Grant and Elijah Taylor.
The Tigers will send Brooks to the Nines as part of a squad that includes experienced forwards Taylor, Joel Edwards, Ava Seumanufagai and Sauaso Sue.
I had been I am sure with lots of others hearing great things about this kid. Perhaps this explains why we have been shopping around Simona or Kevvie as Suli will be the 3rd centre if ayone goes down.
Anyway sounds exciting and while it seems huge money a) I’m sure it requires quite a few bonus payments to get anywhere near that money thatd be based on NRL games and secondly with the cap raising to $10m then this will become more common place - I mean look at the Pongia kid at Newcastle after 2 games he got a crap load more