The war of words between rugby league and rugby union has escalated following Roosters star Joseph Suaalii’s high-profile defection with a three-year deal with Rugby Australia from 2025.
As tensions rise, rugby league figure Phil Gould told Suaalii to pack his bags and leave the NRL now after making his decision, while Suaalii’s Roosters teammates offered their views in the press when asked on Sunday.
Former Waratah and 2014 Super Rugby winner Stephen Hoiles and former Wallaby Morgan Turinui have hit back at some of the commentary coming from league, particularly remarks made by Brandon Smith.
Hoiles believed that there is a lack of appreciation for union in this current generation of league players who have little respect for the game as a whole, including at the top level with the Wallabies.
“The league attack on Union from the players, that always irritates me,” he said on Stan Sport’s Between Two Posts podcast.
“As a boy growing up playing both [codes], we love our league, we watch it every week, we talk about it.
“When Australia play rugby league, I support the Kangaroos. I don’t think league guys are the same, they really dislike rugby union.
“I don’t know why. It just seems like it is the cool thing to do is bag rugby. I found that ordinary, from a couple of the remarks.”
Ex-Wallaby Turinui took aim at Roosters hooker Brandon Smith for his comments made around how Rugby Australia could have made better use of the money spent on Suaalii.
The Roosters No 9 crassly predicted his own teammate would be of ‘no help’ in beating the All Blacks and the money is essential a waste.
“The Brandon Smith one was interesting, he’s almost rebuking his own’s teammates choice in life, it’s an old saying to paraphrase but Brandon Smith opens his mouth and confirms what we’ve always thought of him,” he said.
“If you are a fool and can keep your mouth shut, you are better off doing that instead of opening it and confirming to everyone that you are.
“Let’s be frank, Jason Robinson wins a World Cup with England, league-convert, Lote Tuqiri is outstanding, league-convert, Dell [Sailor] does well, [Mat] Rogers does well.
“League converts have done well they’ve been successful against the All Blacks or whoever it is.
“The great thing about Joseph Suaalii is he’s a fine footballer who will make the Wallabies better.
“The great strength, and the great weakness, of Australian rugby is that the Wallabies make all the money, and that’s where it filters down to the grassroots.
“There has to be investment in that high profile programme to make sure there is funding to grassroots.
“As Super Rugby grows and stands on its own two feet more, then more money can be put to other parts of the game.
“I don’t think it is as simple as lets steal this money of the kids and put it over there.
“We’re not saying Brandon Smith’s $600k contract is taking money off the Paddo Colts. So why is it different in rugby?”