‘Can’t rule it out’: Asofa-Solomona waiting for phone call on Wallabies switch

Nelson Asofa-Solomona says he would seriously consider representing the Wallabies should the opportunity arise.

Asofa-Solomona, one of the biggest names off contract at the end of this season, is yet to receive a call from Eddie Jones but is one of several NRL stars linked to a potential switch to the 15-player code.

The Storm star has a union background and reportedly met with former Wallabies coach Dave Rennie when his qualms about vaccination threatened his league career during the pandemic-affected 2021 season.

Jones has made no secret about looking at the best league talent since returning as Wallabies coach, just as he did when he lured Wendell Sailor, Lote Tuqiri and Mat Rogers in his first stint in the job.

Asofa-Solomona, who represented New Zealand in the recent Rugby League World Cup, said a code switch was a genuine option.

“Obviously I’ve been at the Storm for such a long time,” Asofa-Solomona told the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Nelson Asofa-Solomona is open to a code switch.Credit:SMH

“Coming from a rugby union background, I’ve always been enticed to go back to rugby at some stage. Just seeing the talent we have got at the Storm and the future they have, the Storm is in good hands even if I leave.

“I’m not too sure what I want to do, I change my mind every day.

“It’s hard to say [if I would join the Wallabies]. I’d be silly not to consider all my options.”

Asked if Jones had reached out since his appointment as Wallabies coach, the 26 year old said: “Eddie hasn’t been in touch yet. Obviously I’ve seen the headlines and stuff like that, I’m getting a bit of stick around the club.

“I’m still waiting for a phone call.”

It would be difficult for Asofa-Solomona to be on the other side of the haka. However, the 130kg, two-metre forward remained open to the prospect of pulling on the gold Wallabies jersey.

“You can’t rule anything out,” he said. “Stuff crosses your mind, but it would be tough being a New Zealander. But I’ve spent a lot of time in Australia, Australia has done a lot for my family. It’s a tough question to answer.”

One of Asofa-Solomona’s best friends is former Storm teammate Suliasi Vunivalu, who has completed his own switch to the Queensland Reds and the Wallabies.

The pair have spoken about the prospect of one day playing rugby together, but the premiership-winning prop said their bond alone won’t be the deciding factor.

“Obviously we’re close mates, but at the end of the day it’s up to me what I want to do with my career,” he said.

“Nothing like that will really entice me to go just to go to a club, I have to consider a lot of things. I need to consider my family first and foremost.

“I miss Suli dearly and the Storm miss him as well. We love Suli. [Playing together] would be nice.”

For his part, Vunivalu told this masthead last July that he wanted to see his mate give rugby a try at some stage.

“Coming from a rugby union background, I’ve always been enticed to go back to rugby at some stage.”

“I didn’t know I was going to end up in rugby league, leaving school,” Vunivalu said. “But then when I was there I was with Nelson [Asofa-Solomona], we always spoke about spending a couple of years in league and then trying to head back to rugby when we were age 24 or 25. It happened for me.”

The Storm are keen to retain Asofa-Solomona, one of the most destructive forwards in the NRL. However, the giant enforcer said he would consider alternatives – including a potential crack at the NFL – due to the changing nature of the NRL.

“Rugby league is just getting faster and faster. They keep changing the rules,” he said. “They are sort of rubbing the big men out of the game. It is what it is, you have to adapt to those challenges. The NFL is an option. Back in the day I had an opportunity to go to the NFL.

“In saying that the NFL is such a process, it’s not just ‘go to the NFL’.”

Asofa-Solomona said former South Sydney under-20 forward Jordan Mailata, who will start for the Philadelphia Eagles in Monday’s Super Bowl, had provided the blueprint for league players making the transition.

“People from this code going elsewhere – people doing boxing, Jordan Mailata going to NFL – it just goes to show what the human is capable of. It’s awesome seeing that stuff, it gives you confidence that maybe I can do that.

“Jordan Mailata is the one who has gone through all of that. I would love to go to the NFL. I’m more of an explosive athlete. Shorter stints would let me have a rest and go again.”

There could also be an altogether different code switch, with Asofa-Solomona also revealing an interest in boxing.

“I would love to at least get in the ring once in my career and see how I go, see if I like it,” he said.

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