Manly has taken an important first step in retaining Haumole Olakau’atu long term by upgrading the contract of the State of Origin contender for this season.
Olakau’atu is already contracted until the end of 2025, but the Sea Eagles are keen to retain the Tongan international well beyond then. The club has given Olakau’atu an immediate pay rise of close to $200,000, a figure that better reflects the market value of one of the NRL’s most damaging back-rowers.
The upgrade was made possible, in part, to a swap deal that resulted in funds freed up when Manly forwards Viliami Fifita and Alec Tuitavake shifted to the Dragons in return for Aaron Woods.
Olakau’atu, in the frame to make his Blues debut after a stellar start to the season, is still on a deal considered “unders” for 2024-5. The Sea Eagles will attempt to further upgrade and extend the 24-year-old in a bid to make him a one-club man.
Manly powerbrokers have also moved to keep one of their other rising stars, Tolutau Koula. The club has tabled a lucrative three-year deal that would tie him to the northern beaches until the end of 2027.
Should he accept, that timeframe would effectively eliminate any chance of him being eligible for the Rugby World Cup in Australia that year.
Koula, who played alongside rugby recruit Joseph Suaalii on the victorious 2019 Australian Schoolboys union tour, is a target for Rugby Australia.
There are reports that the 15-man game was prepared to offer about $800,000 a year to commit to the code.