Rugby league star Vunivalu bolts into Wallabies squad

Suliasi Vunivalu (Getty Images)
Suliasi Vunivalu (Getty Images)

Rugby league sensation Suliasi Vunivalu is being rushed into the Wallabies' Tri Nations squad, Rugby Australia said on Wednesday, barely three weeks after helping Melbourne Storm win the NRL grand final.

Vunivalu announced last year he was switching from league to union to join the Reds after the conclusion of Australia's 2020 National Rugby League season, but few expected the Fiji-born wing to receive a Wallabies' call-up so quickly.

The official rugby.com.au website reported that Vunivalu will join Dave Rennie's men on Wednesday, provided he tests negative for Covid-19.

It said he was "extremely unlikely" to play in Australia's final two Tri Nations Tests against Argentina on 21 November and 5 December and his presence was to allow Rennie to assess the 24-year-old at first hand.

However, Rennie's interest in Vunivalu before he has played a game of Super Rugby for the Reds demonstrates the excitement surrounding him in the Australian camp.

A schoolboy rugby union star in New Zealand, Vunivalu made an immediate impact with Melbourne Storm, helping them to premierships in 2017 and 2020.

He scored 86 tries in 111 NRL appearances - recording competition-best figures in 2016 and 2017 - capping his league career with a length-of-the-field touchdown as the Storm downed Penrith Panthers in the NRL decider late last month.

Rennie will hope Vunivalu can emulate the success of another Fijian-born league convert, Marika Koroibete, who has been prolific on the wing since his Wallabies debut in 2017.

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