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Another Sydney Roosters star confirms code switch to rugby union

In short: Sydney Roosters centre Joey Manu will leave the NRL at season’s end to take up a deal with Japanese rugby union club Toyota Verblitz.Manu will leave at the same time as Joseph Sua’ali’i sets sail for the NSW Waratahs, with Wallabies winger Mark Nawaqnitawase joining the Roosters.What’s next? Manu will join All Blacks fly half Beauden Barrett and Springboks star Pieter-Steph du Toit at Verblitz, where Steve Hansen is director of rugby.

Joey Manu will leave the Sydney Roosters in 2025 after signing a year-long deal with Japanese rugby union side Toyota Verblitz.

Manu’s exit has been on the cards for months with the Roosters and Verblitz, who boast former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen among their staff, finally confirming the move on Tuesday.

The New Zealand international will leave the Tricolours at the end of the 2024 NRL season, at the same time as Wallabies flyer Mark Nawaqanitawase is set to join the team.

“I have cherished my time playing rugby league for the Roosters, so it’s been a tough decision to leave the club and NRL,” Manu said.

“I will always be grateful to wear the Roosters jersey and to everyone who has supported me and provided me with some incredible opportunities.”

All Blacks fly half Beauden Barrett and Springboks giant Pieter-Steph du Toit are also on the Verblitz squad.

Hansen said the club sees Manu as a fullback, winger or centre, adding his “great skills and strong work ethic” should make for a “smooth transition” to union.

“I believe we can make the transition. Also, his skill set lends itself well to our style of play and the rugby league he currently plays,” Hansen said.

Manu was named the Dally M centre of the year for the Roosters in 2022 and won the Golden Boot award as the best player in international rugby league, while playing fullback for New Zealand.

He has also played five-eighth for the Bondi club, where he made his NRL debut in 2016.

Still only 27 years old, Manu boasts two premierships, in 2018 and 2019, in his 164 games for the club.

“Joey has been open about his desire to experience the challenge of living overseas with his young family, and of playing in a different environment, so while we are sad to see him go, we fully support him,” Roosters coach Trent Robinson said.

“Joey will always be a Rooster. He is very clear on what he wants to achieve this season and we look forward to sharing the year ahead.”

Manu is the second Rooster in just over a year to announce plans to leave the league for a shot in the 15-a-side game, with Joseph Aukuso Sua’ali’i set to take up a lucrative deal with Rugby Australia from next season.

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