Suliasi Vunivalu has a golden chance to shine on his international debut, but can he make it count?

Suliasi Vunivalu, the former NRL superstar who played 111 games for the Melbourne Storm, has officially entered the Wallabies 23-man roster for the first time ever.

With serious rugby league accolades to his name, including two NRL Premiership titles and the NRL Top Try Scorer award in 2016 and 2017, Vunivalu has added the number 954 Wallaby cap to his long list of accomplishments; the first big step in his union career.

Vunivalu was given a golden opportunity, pardon the pun, to announce their name on the world stage in the decisive test match against England at the SCG.

Named at number 23, manager Dave Rennie will aim to inject Vunivalu late in the game as a potential game-changer. With bizarre aerial skills under the high ball and blistering pace despite a string of hamstring injuries, Vunivalu, given the chance, could shine on his international debut.

The Fijian flyer has already been on major national stages, scoring a crucial length of the field interception try for the Storm in their famous 2020 NRL Premiership win over Penrith Panthers.

He appeared in four NRL Grand Finals and a Super Rugby quarter-final against the Crusaders earlier this year, giving away some much-needed big-game experience on his debut for the Wallabies.

Despite a series of hamstring injuries that kept the former NRL flyer from struggling for playing time, Vunivalu has mostly impressed in his 15 games for the Reds over the last two seasons of 2021 and 2022.

Suliasi Vunivalu poses for a photo before an Australian Wallabies training session on June 21, 2022 in Sunshine Coast, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

He has scored seven tries, including six against New Zealand Super Rugby teams. Arguably his best performance for the Reds was his two-try performance as a substitute against the Highlanders in 2021, where shortly after the half-time break Bryce Hegarty cross-kicked a leaping Vunivalu, who won the ball in the air against Sam Gilbert to score in the corner for the Reds’ second try.

Likewise, in the 81st minute, Vunivalu scored another cross kick attempt to end the game with a brace.

This year again, Vunivalu performed well against the Blues and Crusaders, scoring tries in both games, including several other crucial line breaks. Despite strong performances, Vunivalu has struggled to find the rhythm in a few matches this season, including against Moana Pasifika at Suncorp Stadium, and her return match against the Melbourne Rebels; where he found very little space, with a limited number of litters. B

But as the season progressed, Vunivalu’s confidence and positional play improved dramatically, becoming one of the Reds’ few bright stars at the end of the season.

With 15 appearances for Queensland over the past two seasons and a solid four-week training block with Wallaby coaches, Vunivalu is set for a promising start, with the potential carrot of a World Cup berth in rugby next year in France.

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