Matty Johns and Cooper Cronk have sung the praises of Roosters young gun Joseph Suaalii after his breakout performance in the Magic Round win over the Eels — and it wasn’t the flashy plays that impressed them most.
Suaalii scored two late tries, the highlight a 61st-minute effort where the 18-year-old caught an AFL like ‘specky’ on the back of Eels winger Hayze Perham to score in the corner
The teenager also impressed with his hard work, carrying the ball for more than 150m as he helped the Roosters work their way up the field.
“Jeez I thought Suaalii was good,” Johns said on Tuesday’s new episode of The Matty Johns podcast.
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“You can see Suaalii now has found his first grade legs.
“That beautiful take, that leap, he hung up there. It felt like he was up there for three or four seconds, just suspended in the air.
“Also Coops his work through the middle and he played really aggressive the way he carried the ball, as you said on the weekend he arrived as a first grader.”
While Cronk and Johns were in awe of Suaalii’s second try, the former Rooster elaborated on other facets of the youngster’s game that were beginning to shine.
“We will always talk about that catch because it was a highlight, it was so good but the best part of his game as you said were the tough carries,” Cronk explained.
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“He accelerated into contact and he’s taking it into the middle of RCG (Reagan Campbell Gillard) and (Junior) Paulo.
“The Roosters have seen that, they’ve seen him do that at different stages but for him to do it in a big game at Magic Round, he might do that for another 100 times for the Roosters and he will be an absolute star.”
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“The kid is physical and I think that’s the best part of it,” Cronk said.
“He likes the physicality, he doesn’t avoid it and he’s also got that top-shelf skill.
“Once he starts being able to put that together I think you’ll see a lot more performances like that and if you think about kicking the Roosters now have (him and) Daniel Tupou on the edges.
“They’re two good targets to be kicking for basically every time you get down there.”
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