Superstar teen Joseph Suaalii has been "spooked" by the amount of media coverage he has received in the past month and is yet to sign on the dotted line for Souths.
Suaalii turned 17 on Saturday – the day on which he was reportedly set to put pen to paper on a multi-million dollar deal which would keep him at Redfern for at least the next three years.
But both the Rabbitohs and Rugby Australia have had nothing but radio silence from Suaalii, his family and his advisors in the days since.
Prominent Sydney art dealer Steve Nasteski – a Souths tragic who tried to lure Semi Radradra back to the NRL last year – has been advising Suaalii.
He told the Herald the teen prodigy would not be rushing into any decision – though it's expected he will eventually sign with Souths.
"He was spooked by the amount of media attention," Nasteski said. "He needs some time to think about it now. When he's ready he will make that decision but right now, he hasn't made that decision.
"It's his decision and his family's decision, 100 per cent. We've just left it up to them and they can take as much time as they want now."
Nasteski made a point of thanking both Souths and Rugby Australia for giving the star teen space to make a decision, given the impact the amount of recent media attention has had on both Suaalii and his family.
"Souths are giving him the time that he needs and he can take as much time as he wants," Nasteski said. "He's with Souths until October 31. No other clubs can talk to him until November 1 and he can't play rugby without getting a release. There is no rush."
Souths chief executive Blake Solly confirmed the club had not heard from Suaalii since he turned 17.
While Rugby Australia officials have privately conceded they have all but lost the race for the prized recruit, some hope must remain given Nasteski insisted no decision has been made.
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie – who has not had any contact with the talented teen since January – told the Herald on Monday he simply hoped Suaalii made an “informed decision”, conceding RA could not match the financial clout of the NRL.
"He’s an impressive young man and I was impressed with his parents, certainly mum talked a lot about wanting what’s best for him and it wasn’t about money," Rennie said.
"They’re quite different situations from a decision point of view for him. Financially we’re poles apart, so really what’s important for us is to be in the conversation.
"You just want people making informed decisions. That’s key. It’s easy to be on one side of the argument and try to convince people to select you guys because of this or because of that.
"But you put your best foot forward, you talk about what’s great in the game and the support you’re going to give them.
"We’re going to lose a lot of those battles financially but we are going to keep some kids. Because our emphasis is not just on the finance it’s on the whole person."
As Suaalii continues to ponder where his future lies, he has an AAGPS rugby season to prepare for.
The King's School have two trials coming up before kicking off their season against St Joseph's on August 22, a match which is sure to draw many curious eyes given Suaalii's name has been plastered across newspapers and televisions across Sydney for weeks.
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