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Rugby league makes laughing stock of rugby union with major coup

Sydney Roosters have completed what was described as “an audacious play” for rugby union star Mark Nawaqanitawase.

This comes after they have lost one of their own players to Rugby Union in Joseph Suaali’i but according to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Roosters have gotten their own back and completed a move for the winger / fullback who has played 11 tests for Australia and is only 23.

Ideally, he also has a background in rugby league playing the game at an amateur level as well.

This, though, is yet another travesty for rugby union in Australia. They crashed out of this year’s World Cup and are desperately trying to assemble a squad to be competitive in 2027 when the World Cup comes to Australia.

They have even targeted more NRL signings like Cameron Munster and Nathan Cleary. These have collapsed and now this is a bitter pill to swallow.

Making matters worse, the signing has made a laughing stoke of promotional material for Australia’s upcoming tours in which Nawaqanitawase featured heavily.

Rugby Australia spent Thursday hiding their brochures and social media posts which they have used for the past month.

A powerful image of Nawaqanitawase running had been chosen to for their premium hospitality packages for the 2025 British and Irish Lions tour.

Of course, for Sydney this is no laughing matter and is another major coup for the club who have already assembled a top squad for 2024. It features a number of established Sydney Roosters players as well as some key additions with NRL experience and a number of development players, including members of the Sydney Roosters Academy.

This comes with Billy Smith signing a one-year extension (2024) and Connor Watson re-committing for a further two years (2024-2025).

2023 was a breakout season for Billy Smith. He completed the year with 15 first grade appearances and was regularly among the best on field.

Born and bred in the Eastern Suburbs, Smith progressed through the Club’s pathway program and made his NRL debut in 2019. Despite an unfortunate run of injuries early in his career, he has established himself as a key member of the squad with a ‘team first’ mentality.

“I’m so grateful to the Roosters for the loyalty they’ve shown me over the years. I love the Club and I look forward to continuing to repay the Roosters for the belief they have always had in me,” said Smith.

“For me personally, 2023 was my best year of footy and I’m excited to build on that in 2024,” he added.

Roosters Head Coach Trent Robinson was pleased to retain Smith as a member of the Club’s 2024 squad.

“Billy is an Eastern Suburbs local and he is respected by his teammates for his dedication to all aspects of his preparation and performance. It was terrific to see Billy’s growth throughout the 2023 season and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with him,” said Robinson.

While a pre-season injury sidelined Connor Watson for the duration of the 2023 season, his recovery has progressed well, and he will commence pre-season training later this month.

Known for his adaptability and the versatility he brings to the game, Watson also made his NRL debut with the Roosters (2016) after progressing through the Club’s lower grades. After four seasons with the Newcastle Knights (2018-2021), he returned to the Tricolours in 2022 and has played 125 first grade games so far.

“I’m stoked to re-commit to the Roosters for another two years. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the coaches and players we have here, and to playing my role for the team,” said Watson.

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