Why Tigers let ‘next Folau’ walk
HE was billed as a potential Israel Folau. A powerhouse 110kg outside back from Parramatta juniors who signed a $1.3 million deal at the Wests Tigers before he had even played first grade.
Now Moses Suli has walked out on the club on the eve of the 2018 season to join the Canterbury Bulldogs in a massive boost for new coach Dean Pay's hopes of lifting the club into the finals.
The 19-year-old centre/winger played 16 straight NRL matches and a midyear Test for Tonga in his debut season with the Wests Tigers last year.
Pay told The Daily Telegraph it was his former Wests Tigers connection - recruitment boss Warren McDonnell and front-rower Aaron Woods who helped lure Suli to Belmore.
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"You look at his tapes and you can see the kid is a real talent," Pay said.
"He's got a bit of Israel Folau about him. He can jump, catch and run.
"And he could still be playing Holden Cup this year.
"The potential is enormous and we're really excited about him coming.
"And he's looking forward to playing with Woodsy again."
Pay confirmed Suli had work to do before the premiership kick-off.
"He had a stress fracture in his leg and he's put a bit of weight on," Pay said.
"To be honest I don't know how happy he's been. We've got a really good group who will help him to get going."
The youngster has wanted out from the Wests Tigers for months.
Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe confirmed there had been issues with the Tongan international.
"Moses is an exceptionally talented player," Pascoe said, "That's why over the last 12 months our coaching and personal development staff have dedicated so much time and energy in supporting Moses with his challenges, both on and off the field."
The Daily Telegraph understands Suli has been struggling at training with an ankle injury and his weight has ballooned to over 120kg.
Not that it was a concern for Pay and the Canterbury coaching staff.
The Bulldogs have signed Suli on a three-year contract for about half the price the Wests Tigers paid.
He is an exceptional prospect who will add much needed power and speed to the Bulldogs backline and be a long term replacement for the ageing Morris brothers, Brett and Josh.
The opportunity to play outside five-eighth Keiran Foran was another reason for his signing at Belmore according to Pay.