Fa’aoso considers Japanese switch

RAMPAGING Newcastle Knights prop Richie Fa’aoso is considering an offer to play rugby union in Japan with the Panasonic Wild Knights.

Off contract at the end of this season, the 28-year-old Tongan international wants to remain in the NRL and his priority is to stay in Newcastle.

But Fa’aoso is concerned that the Newcastle Knights, who he joined from Parramatta at the end of the 2007 season, are yet to show any genuine interest in offering him a new deal.

The Wild Knights, who lost to the Eddie Jones-coached Suntory in Japan’s Top League rugby union final in February, created headlines last month when they offered celebrated code-hopper Sonny Bill Williams a lucrative two-year deal.

Fa’aoso told the Newcastle Herald last night that the Japanese rugby union club had contacted him via email, after he was recommended to them by a family contact.

‘‘Of course I want to stay at the Knights because I’ve made my home in Newcastle, but I’m not getting any younger and I have to look after myself and my family,’’ said Fa’aoso, who is not represented by a player agent.

‘‘If that means joining another NRL club or playing rugby union in Japan or something like that, I’d have to consider that.

‘‘I want to play some good football and let that do the talking for me, but I haven’t been going too good the last few weeks. Hopefully I can start playing some good footy and something comes up so I can stay here at the Knights, but if not, I’ll have to look elsewhere.’’

It is understood NRL clubs Wests Tigers and Souths have also shown interest in recruiting the hard-running forward, who led the career of a journeyman before joining the Knights.

Fa’aoso had stints at the Panthers (2004), Roosters (2005), English club Castleford (2006) and the Eels (2007), but has spent the past five seasons at the Knights and been one of their most committed and consistent performers.

He has played 98 games for the Knights since 2008 but has managed just seven appearances this year. His last NRL game was Newcastle’s 24-6 loss to the Roosters on May 6.

Fa’aoso was omitted from the team that lost 32-12 to the Cowboys on May 12 because he had been affected by a stomach virus in the lead-up to the game.

He played in Newcastle’s NSW Cup team against Norths at North Sydney Oval last Saturday and has been named to play NSW Cup against Canterbury at Belmore on Saturday.

A Knights spokeswoman said the club’s policy was not to comment on player negotiations.

● Queensland winger Darius Boyd has been chosen in his regular NRL position of fullback and Aku Uate on the wing for Newcastle’s game against Gold Coast at Hunter Stadium on Saturday night.

Danny Buderus, who has missed the past two losses to the Cowboys and Roosters due to Achilles tendonitis, was named as captain and hooker. Utility forward Joel Edwards, returning from a one-game ban for a dangerous throw, was selected on the bench.

Hooker Chris Adams and prop Evarn Tuimavave have made way for Buderus and Edwards and were named alongside Richie Fa’aoso in the front row for Newcastle’s NSW Cup game against Canterbury on Saturday.

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