Roosters coach Trent Robinson has dismissed criticism of player loyalty from arch rivals South Sydney and holds no fear of Joseph Suaalii’s desire to play fullback forcing the club to choose between him and James Tedesco in coming years.
Robinson took his own small potshot at the Rabbitohs and “the amount of comments out of that side” ahead of a mouthwatering Friday night showdown at Allianz Stadium, scene of last year’s wild elimination final which featured seven sin bins.
Former South Sydney CEO Shane Richardson stirred the pot on Thursday with a crack at “players who are only prepared to sign one-year extensions” via Fox Sports, alluding to Suaalii’s recent agreement to stay with the Roosters in 2024.
Tedesco’s own one-year deal for 2025 was announced earlier this week.
Robinson’s quip of “the amount of comments out of that side… they’ll keep commenting” was in response to a question of alleged ticket price gouging of Rabbitohs supporters for Friday’s game, an issue the Roosters coach said he had no idea about.
Joseph Suaalii and James Tedesco at Roosters training this week.Credit:James Brickwood
Richardson’s comments were also met with short shrift. The Roosters will field 11 one-club players on Friday night (as well as Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, who played six games for Manly before 274 for the Tricolours), while the Rabbitohs’ 17 includes 13 one-club players.
“I think our loyalty’s been shown. The stats have shown a lot of our guys have been here [for] a long period of time compared to across the road,” Robinson said.
“A lot of our guys have come through our system and that’s been the case for many years.”
Richardson was at the helm for South Sydney during much of Suaalii’s time in their junior system before the 19-year-old’s shift across Anzac Parade with a reported $60,000 transfer fee.
The Herald recently revealed a $2.7 million Rabbitohs pitch to lure Suaalii back in 2024 in case Latrell Mitchell didn’t re-sign last year, with Robinson insistent both he and the rising teen star are comfortable with where his long-term future lies.
As Roosters, NSW and Australian captain, he said Tedesco’s place has never been questioned within the club despite persistent external speculation.
“I think [Tedesco’s] been questioned a lot,” Robinson said. “There’s always some better fullback, there’s always someone better according to people outside and he keeps producing for the Roosters, he keeps producing for NSW and Australia.
“I think the faith is pretty clear from our end. [We] get the same question every year, it’s not up to me to answer it, Teddy answers it on the field.
“I’ve definitely talked to Joe [about his positional preferences] and it’ll definitely stay between Joe and I. He’s in a really good spot and obviously agreed for next year again. It’s all positive there.
“There’s absolutely no concern from my end about how that relationship plays out, how the signings have played out. It’s created a lot of noise outside which is always quite funny because people build it into something that is much more than what it is.”
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