Phil Gould has expressed fears for Joseph Suaalii’s longevity in the game after the NRL granted the Sydney Roosters an exemption to play the teenage star before he turned 18e birthday.
The ARL Commission approved the Roosters’ request this morning after careful consideration with a range of stakeholders.
In granting the exemption, the NRL said it took the following factors into account: Suaalii results from independent medical and psychological assessments, the individual circumstances of the player’s development at this stage and a well-being management plan and of education provided by roosters.
Gould had previously spoken out against allowing the 17-year-old to play high-level soccer in favor of nurturing its development for a long and healthy career in the game.
And the NRL guru has expressed fears about what today’s decision might hold for Suaalii’s career, especially as he reaches the final stages of his career.
“I’m in no rush to play best year teens,” Gould told Nine’s. 100% Footy. I would retain them all until the age of 20 and I would make sure that their schooling, their education, their physique, their mentality were at 100%.
“I’m not saying he won’t take care of the NRL, but come back to me when he’s 28 or 29. Long-term athlete development, I’ve seen a lot of teenage stars who don’t didn’t have much back-end of their career, and I think it’s too early.
“He might just handle it and become a superstar because God knows our game needs it, but I think that’s a bad precedent to set – I wouldn’t have.
“What I would have done is say ‘you know what, he’s 17, he can only play three (games).’ But I hate that clubs are asking to qualify 17-18 youngsters. years when they are not ready, their club is not ready, their team is not ready and the child will burn himself.
Sam Walker creates Joseph Suaalii
“When Brad Fittler came on the scene at 17, the first thing I did as a Panthers coach was let him down. I put him back in reserve for six weeks because he just wasn’t mentally ready. Then he became a gaming superstar, he was one of the lucky ones. “
While appeals regarding Suaalii’s eligibility status have spread throughout the game, one character who has agreed with Gould is the great Billy Slater of Melbourne Storm.
Monday’s decision left Slater completely perplexed as to how the NRL will handle similar cases in the future, given the precedent that was now set.
“I just don’t know how you can come to a conclusion that he’s ready and the next 17-year-old isn’t? How do you decide that?” Slater told Wide World of Sports Radio on 2 GB.
“I just don’t know the criteria and I just don’t know how they’re going to fire someone when another request comes in.
“Like, we’re going to throw a 17 year old kid into the most physical toughest sport in the world, that’s crazy.
“They made a rule for a reason, the rule exists for a reason. I don’t know why were making exemptions.”