Rugby Australia may be on the verge of an exciting four-year cycle, but not even the prospect of playing the British and Irish Lions and, potentially, in a home World Cup could be enough to retain one of their rising stars. The Roar has learned that Wallabies winger Mark Nawaqanitawase is close to signing a two-year deal with NRL powerhouse the Sydney Roosters. Nawaqanitawase, who had a breakout season in 2022 and performed well for the Wallabies at the World Cup, will make a decision on his future in the next 24 hours. It is believed that the 23-year-old, who scored two tries on his Super Rugby debut against the Crusaders in 2020, is inclining towards making the switch to rugby league. Money is not the primary reason for the move, as Nawaqanitawase is expected to earn an estimated $600,000 if he moves to the NRL.
Nawaqanitawase has met with Roosters coach Trent Robinson and appears to be leaning towards joining the team as a replacement for Waratahs-bound back Joseph Suaalii. Rugby Australia has made efforts to secure Nawaqanitawase with a multi-year deal worth more than $500,000 per season. The Waratahs and Rugby Australia are hopeful that Nawaqanitawase will reconsider his decision in the next 24 hours. But Nawaqanitawase, who has expressed interest in exploring other opportunities, appears to have his sights set on a move to the NRL. If he signs with the Roosters as expected, it will be a significant loss for Rugby Australia. Meanwhile, former Waratahs back Triston Reilly has returned to the Super Rugby franchise from the West Tigers after featuring for the NRL club in 2023.

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