Lang on League: Sunia Turuva’s life-changing decision

As Sunia Turuva prepares to meet with Penrith officials to see what final offer the club can come up with to keep him, it’s worth looking at the situation in a little more detail.

Turuva is the 2023 Dally M Rookie of the Year, that means he was the number one rookie in the whole NRL. That’s right, he was voted the best newcomer from 17 clubs.

In doing so, Turuva became just the second Panther to win the award since Penrith legend Greg Alexander in 1984. Last year the man they call ‘Tito’ scored 12 tries, averaged 166 metres and made over four tackle breaks a game.

He’s started the 2024 season on fire, scoring six tries in just five games including a triple against the Roosters in Round 4. You could almost see his price rising with every try he scored that night.

The Panthers have reportedly offered him $350,000 a season, which for a second-year winger is not bad coin. It’s not an insulting offer however salary cap constraints will hamper the club’s ability to offer him too much more.

Sunia Turuva. Photo: NRL Photos.

Stories have since come out that Turuva harbours a desire to play fullback, something he won’t get the opportunity to do at Penrith with Dylan Edwards locked up until 2027 and playing the best football of his career.

Turuva has been quoted repeatedly as saying he wants to stay with Penrith, that he really doesn’t want to go anywhere else.

The Sydney Morning Herald have already reported that the Dragons have weighed in with a hefty three-year offer, which will financially blow the Panthers’ offer out of the water. Not only that but they’ve hinted that he will also get the opportunity to play fullback, a position Turuva is also interested in.

So how much should he have to give up to stay with Penrith?
Should he accept $75,000 a season less, how about $100,000? That’s a lot of money, especially if you times it by three.

Penrith have already lost Jarome Luai to the Tigers to a big money offer.
They won’t want to lose Turuva as well.

Not only is he a fan favourite but his teammates love him and the kid is special. He’s not just ‘another winger’.

So, it all comes down to this upcoming meeting, when the Panthers will table their final offer to Turuva and his management.

Sunia Turuva. Photo: Melinda Jane.

The Fijian international has a huge decision to make and it’s not an easy one. Go for a lot more money and the opportunity to play fullback or stay with your mates in a place you love for a lot less.

You can’t blame the bloke no matter which decision he makes.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that all players are equal under the watchful eye of the coach or the club.

A high-profile NFL coach many years ago once famously sacked a player from his ‘special teams’ squad because he fell asleep during a team meeting.

A reporter asked the coach, what would he have done if it was his quarterback?

“That’s easy,” he said. “I would’ve woken him up!”

For the record, if Sunia Turuva fell asleep during a team meeting, I’d wake him up too.