“Nine times out of 10, he’s going to put a big shot on, it’s going to be great and it’s going to look great, and the game’s going to go on, but when that tackle does go wrong, like I know from experience, you’ve got to pay the consequences.”

Williams has been an admirer of Suaalii’s talents in the NRL and thinks the winger will not need to make any major defensive adjustments to thrive in his new code.

“Technique wise, maybe it’s just a little bit of a mindset thing that will help him, but purely going and tackling the bag 100 times a week in that different way, in a lower way, nah,” Williams said.

“He’s tackled the way he’s tackled all throughout his life. It was just a tackle that’s gone wrong, there was no malice in it.

“I think he’ll go well in union. I really think he’ll go well. I think we’ve just got to let him walk his path and walk that walk. Does he have the size? Does he have the capability? Does he have the potential? Yes, of course.”

Like Williams, former Wallaby and Queensland Origin representative Mat Rogers understands the significant challenges of switching between the two codes, and remembers his own struggles with defensive adjustments after returning to the NRL from his stint in rugby.

But Rogers doesn’t believe the switch to union will present the same challenges to Suaalii given the Rooster’s extensive childhood experience in the 15-man code.

Reece Walsh hits the deck after a hit from Joseph Suaalii.

Reece Walsh hits the deck after a hit from Joseph Suaalii.

“My issue when I came from union to league was that I was tackling people around the legs, and they’d get a quick play-the-ball,” Rogers said.

“I remember my centre partner would say, ‘Mate, stop tackling people around the legs – you’ve got to hit them on the chest, wrap them up, and you got to get your body weight on them so they don’t get a quick play-the-ball’.


“That’s not the case in rugby union. You want to get them on the ground quick so he’ll be taught to tackle, particularly in the outside backs. You want to get them on the ground, it’s a totally different dynamic.

“So rugby league is all about winning the ruck and shutting the ball down, and, you know, with wrestling in the ruck and, you know, having control of that space is very different in rugby.

“Joseph is going to be fine, he’s played a lot of rugby before, he’s a tremendous talent, he’s one of the most gifted athletes that’s running around in either code.”