NRL Premiership winner in line to make Wallabies debut against England

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Suliasi Vunivalu NRL Credit: PA Images
Suliasi Vunivalu NRL Credit: PA Images

NRL Premiership winner Suliasi Vunivalu has been named in a 35-man Wallabies squad to face England next month. 

The code-hopper is one of six uncapped players named by head coach Dave Rennie.

Vunivalu, 26, began his career with Melbourne Storm, making his debut in 2016 against the Wests Tigers, crossing for two tries.

He finished his first season as the club’s top try-scorer, and set a record for most tries in a debut season. Scoring 22, he passed the previous record of 21 tries set by Israel Folau back in 2007. He finished the season as the NRL’s top finisher.

The winger was quickly rewarded on the international scene. He made his Fiji debut in 2017 at the Pacific Rugby League Test against Tonga.

Vunivalu was a part of the club’s 2017 NRL Grand Final winning team, defeating North Queensland Cowboys 34-6. He was also a part of the Fiji team in the Rugby League World Cup, featuring in five games and was a part of the team that made the semi-finals. The Suva-born player crossed for a total of nine tries, the second most in the tournament behind Valentine Holmes (12). 

In his final season with Melbourne in 2020, Vunivalu played 17 games. He was a part of Melbourne’s 26–20 winning side over Penrith in the 2020 NRL Grand Final.

Switch to rugby union

Vunivalu joined Queensland Reds on a two-year deal from 2021. It would be a return to the sport for the first time since he was 18, having played rugby union in New Zealand before joining Melbourne.

Despite being born in Fiji, he qualifies for Fiji through the residency rule.

“We’ve picked (Vunivalu) for his massive potential,” boss Rennie said.

“We think we can accelerate his development within the camp rather than leaving him outside of that.

“We genuinely believe he’s good enough to play at this level.”

Australia face England in a three-test series next month.

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