Once the recipient of a $1.3 million deal that ranked as the richest handed to a teenage NRL player, Moses Suli happily left at least $250,000 on the table last year to stay under Des Hasler at Manly.
Suli is in for a penny, a pound and then some at the Sea Eagles, moving out of his family home in Fairfield over summer to Warriewood with his partner on the northern beaches.
It's a significant step for the softly spoken 22-year-old who can't see himself any else but Manly, to the point a lucrative three-year offer from St George Illawarra last year couldn't sway him.
NRL.com understands the Dragons deal was worth around $2 million in total, with the two-year Sea Eagles extension he ended up signing coming in at an estimated $550,000 a season.
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At a $125,000 shortfall per season, the sacrifice to stay at Manly was motivated in part by plans for Suli to play his way into a larger deal when he comes off-contract in November.
But having carried the weight of that much-mentioned first Wests Tigers deal in 2017 – which was at the time the largest ever for a player yet to play first grade – the significant strides he has made under Hasler's tutelage also loomed large.
"Money's not everything and I've learnt not to take things for granted, especially with my past and the start of my career," Suli told NRL.com.
"There was a decent offer and that was tough. I want to provide for my family and do the best for my family back out west. But I wanted to stay here.
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"I told my manager I wanted to stay no matter what.
"I've appreciated everything Des has done for me and I want to stay here. I guess he's the main reason.
"He's really changed things for me, just by being straight up. If something's not right he'll come and tell you to your face. If you don't fix it there's consequences and that works for me.
"I used to just take the piss out of everything and think that everything would just come to me and that I didn't have to chase it. I've learnt from that and I'm happy now."
A smiling Suli bodes well for both he and the Sea Eagles, especially with his weight and fitness under control this summer.
An infection in the Lisfranc fracture that ended his 2020 season early did require an extra surgical cleanout, but won't keep the blockbusting centre from pushing to play in next week's trial against the Wests Tigers or round one.
I've appreciated everything Des has done for me and I want to stay hereManly centre Moses Suli
The injury setback also did not result in a waistline blowout as it may have in previous seasons, with Suli maintaining his usual playing weight of 112-113 kilos.
Getting back on the paddock and atoning for Manly's 13th place finish last year are Suli's first priorities.
Ideally from there, the representative honours that have Suli in the frame for a Tongan World Cup outing pending the tournament going ahead.
His first nod for Brad Fittler's NSW Emerging Origin camp recently also holds significance for a one-time teen prodigy who by his own admission, knows how close he came to never achieving his potential.
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"It was a good experience the Blues, going in with a few of the other guys from other clubs," Suli said.
"We had a lunch and a meeting where Freddie spoke to us about how we can earn those NSW spots.
"I'm really looking forward to pushing for that hopefully this year or in the next few years. I want to play for the Blues, that would be a dream come true. I'm willing to do whatever I can to get there but obviously, it takes a lot of work.
"I've come through junior reps playing in those NSW sides, so it's nice to go back into that kind of set-up again."
Sea Eagles in 2021
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