Vunivalu eyes return to stake Wallaby case

Injured NRL convert Suliasi Vunivalu says he’s likely to return for the next Queensland Reds game and is intent on winning back respect after an inauspicious start to life in rugby union. The Melbourne Storm winger starred in his side’s NRL grand final victory in October, despite spending almost six months away from his family […]

Vunivalu eyes return to stake Wallaby case

Injured NRL convert Suliasi Vunivalu says he’s likely to return for the next Queensland Reds game and is intent on winning back respect after an inauspicious start to life in rugby union.

The Melbourne Storm winger starred in his side’s NRL grand final victory in October, despite spending almost six months away from his family in the club’s Sunshine Coast COVID-19 bubble.

But what seemed destined to be a smooth transition has been anything but, Vunivalu missing three of his unbeaten side’s seven wins this Super Rugby AU season, first because of suspension then due to a hamstring injury.

Part of a Wallabies’ 40-man camp in Sydney this week, Vunivalu’s arrival from rugby league has been trumpeted as a potential game-changer for the national side, who will play France and then potentially host the Rugby Championship later this year.

While he has shown glimpses of brilliance in his few starts this season Vunivalu knows he’s running out of time to make an impression if he wants to be part of those Tests.

And it’s partly his own doing, the 25-year-old set for a court date next weekend after being charged with common assault for allegedly striking a security guard in the face while intoxicated earlier this year.

He missed the season opener as a result, the club also fining him and saying he had allegedly pushed the security guard.

“It was hard standing in front of them (my teammates) addressing them; not a good look being there just four weeks when that incident happened,” Vunivalu said on Monday.

“He (coach Brad Thorn) said this is just a minor setback, but the only way it can get better is by what you do afterwards.

“So I just tried to keep my head down and show on the field that I’m better than that … at that time I really wanted support, so him talking to me was really good.”

The Reds will host the domestic final on May 8 with Vunivalu a chance of collecting a dual-code double inside six months.

All but over his hamstring niggle, Vunivalu hopes to first find a spot in a stacked Reds backline to face the Western Force on April 23 after their bye this week.

Regular visits to Reds attack coach Jim McKay’s office and Thorn’s “old-school” approach have Vunivalu confident the game he played as a schoolboy in Fiji and New Zealand is quickly coming back to him.

“I can kick, I can roam around like a fullback in league in the middle or the other edge so I’m happy (with my progression) but I’m learning and the more games the better,” he said.

“One more game before the big dance would be good because I’d love to (play for the Wallabies later this year) but you’ve got to show it at club level to wear that (jersey).”

Source : The Roar More   

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Haylett-Petty may cover Rebels’ Hodge

Melbourne Rebels may swap one Wallabies star for another with Dane Haylett-Petty a chance to replace Reece Hodge, who will miss the rest of their Super Rugby campaign with a knee injury. The utility back is expected to be out of action for about 10 weeks but hopes to be available for Australia’s three-Test series […]

Haylett-Petty may cover Rebels’ Hodge

Melbourne Rebels may swap one Wallabies star for another with Dane Haylett-Petty a chance to replace Reece Hodge, who will miss the rest of their Super Rugby campaign with a knee injury.

The utility back is expected to be out of action for about 10 weeks but hopes to be available for Australia’s three-Test series against France in July.

He suffered an MCL injury in a tackle by Western Force flanker Tim Anstee while making a last-gasp field goal attempt in Friday night’s 16-15 loss to the Western Force.

Haylett-Petty hasn’t played this season after battling ongoing symptoms from a head knock sustained in last year’s Sydney Bledisloe Cup clash in late October.

There were fears it could force the 31-year-old fullback into retirement.

However the Rebels have been buoyed by news that Haylett-Petty may be available for Sunday afternoon’s crucial Super Rugby AU clash with the Brumbies at AAMI Park.

Melbourne coach Dave Wessels said his captain would be tested at training on Tuesday, with their last round match against the Waratahs another option.

“Dane is a chance, which would be great for us,” Wessels told AAP.

“He’s very keen to play; emotionally also he wants to be part of it now, he knows it’s his time to step forward.”

Melbourne are also hopeful Test five-eighth Matt Toomua will be available after failing a HIA on Friday night, with his case helped by their nine-day break between games.

The Rebels blew a golden chance to lock in a top-three finals berth when the Force scored a late try to snatch a 16-15 win.

They are now just one point clear of the Force and in a desperate battle for the remaining finals spot, with the Reds and Brumbies already qualified.

While disappointed to have let the match against the Perth side slip after leading until the 77th minute, Wessels said his team were still fairly upbeat.

“It’s been a crazy year as there’s been three games that we’ve lost after the bell so we could easily be five from six but the fact is that we are not,” Wessels said.

“We need to be tougher on ourselves about why we’re not executing in those big moments in games.

“We’re not miles away – we have our destiny in our own hands and the boys are still feeling pretty good about it as they know that for large parts of those games we did some pretty good things and dominated but unfortunately couldn’t finish it off.”

Source : The Roar More   

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