There is potential risk and reward for both parties and it remains to be seen whether the Roosters will entertain the swap.
The Roosters had already proposed a $50,000 compensation payment in a bid to secure the release, which the Rabbitohs rejected.
If the Roosters aren’t prepared to swap Tupou, Souths will demand another player of a similar standing in order to release Sualii, potentially including one of the Morris twins, Josh or Brett.
If a deal can’t be reached, Suaalii is facing the prospect of sitting out two entire seasons. The King’s School student is on a $60,000 contract with Souths for next year, one that he doesn’t want to fulfil. The Rabbitohs were prepared to let him sit out next season and write off the money, just to spite the Roosters. However, the swap proposal was hatched in a bid to break the impasse so that both parties can benefit.
If the Roosters agree, releasing Tupou would free up the funds required to provide Suaalii with a salary akin to what he could earn elsewhere.
The development is the latest twist in a saga that has stretched throughout the season. Suaalii has been courted by both rugby codes, with the 15-man game dangling the carrot of an Olympic berth. While his preference is to play league, he is seeking get-out clauses in his next contract that could potentially allow him to cross codes.
Suaalii sat out the entire GPS rugby season in 2020 and is planning to do likewise next year, despite enjoying a boarding scholarship worth more than $65,000. His last game of football was for the Australian under-18s schoolboys rugby side, which toured New Zealand last October.