NRL may bend rules to keep gifted Suaalii

The NRL may ask the Australian Rugby League Commission to bend the rules to allow teenage wonder Joseph Suaalii to make his first-grade debut before turning 18.

The NRL will consider bending the rules in order to keep teenage sensation Joseph Suaalii in rugby league.

With Rugby Australia said to have offered Suaalii $1 million a season for three years to leave South Sydney, ARLC chairman Peter V'landys says the NRL must be prepared to fight for his signature.

And if that means allowing the 16-year-old to make his first-grade debut before his 18th birthday, which currently isn't permitted, that's something V'landys is "absolutely" prepared to do.

"One thing I've noticed with rugby league is the rules are too restrictive," V'landy said on Monday.

"In any good corporate governance model, you've got to have discretion because you're going to face challenges like COVID and if you don't have discretion and you don't have agility, you will fail.

"So we'll look at all of this to give the commission the power to make decisions on their merits and that's one rule that we will look at."

The Suaalii case does have complications with the league needing work around the players' CBA.

But asked specifically if he would have the commission consider allowing Suaalii make his NRL debut for the Rabbitohs next season if that was enough to keep the teenager in the code, V'landy said "absolutely".

"We will look at anything that's to the benefit of the game," he said.

"That's what the commission's there for, is to look at the benefit of the game, the promotion of the game and what's the best outcomes for the game.

"So we should look at every case on its merits. We should not have blanket rules that stop you from doing things that are for the benefit of the game."

While denying they had tabled a $3-million offer to Suaalii, Rugby Australia late last week had been confident of securing his signature.

But it's now being reported the Rabbitohs have called in Russell Crowe to try to change Suaalii's mind.