Earlier on Tuesday, rugby league star Suliasi Vunivalu signed a two-year deal with the Queensland Reds in the Super Rugby. The Fiji-native played in the Rugby Union while schooling in New Zealand, before linking with the Melbourne Storm where he quickly set the National Rugby League ablaze crossing 72 times in 94 appearances.
Former NRL star Craig Wing believes Vunivalu’s transition would be a lot smoother than Koroibete’s. Wing earned 11 caps for Japan while in the Union and 17 for Australia in the league. The former rugby star told the press he believes Vunivalu’s most priced assets are the grounding, professionalism, and systems that the Melbourne Storm instilled in him. That’s something he’ll always carry with him.
The 24-year-old winger grew up in a small village called Bagasau in Fiji, but he’s currently worth over $1.8 million following the two-year deal. As such, the storm winger is set to wear the gold jersey in 2021 following his contract with the Queensland Reds and Rugby Australia (RA). However, it’s still unclear when the RA recruiters chose to target the Fijian who relocated to Australia to feature in the National Rugby League.
Vunivalu has become the fourth player to join the NRL announcing his defection recently. That puts the winger on the same list as Solomone Kata, who also joined the super rugby, Will Chambers, and Jordan Rapana, who’s now using his talents in the Japanese rugby. However, Betway punters expect a considerable change in the game following Vunivalu’s exit.
According to RA ruby director Scott Johnson, Suliasi is among the top players they’ve closely monitoring this year as he has the skills they need for the outside backs. The player has been sharpening his skills in a superb environment at the Melbourne Storm and has a bright future in rugby. However, Vunivalu’s signing is raising questions on rugby recruitment tactics.
The issue with most fans at betway and rugby experts isn’t that Vanivalu will change codes, but instead, the RA chose to persuade him to change countries to bolster the Wallabies ranks. Since the code began, the league has been ruling Rugby Union players, but never to convince them to shift national allegiance.
The NRL and IRL have remained focused on strengthening the relationship between the Pacific Nations with eligibility rules and regular tests that encourage the athletes to stay loyal to their country’s heritage. As stipulated in the IRL residency rules of 2016, the player must reside in a country for a minimum of 60 months before qualifying to transfer in that nation and must live there for at least 210 days every year.
To prevent Queensland and NSW from cherry-picking players who recently moved to Australia to be part of NRL clubs, the state of origin rules have been tightened further. Players will only be eligible for Queensland or NSW if they were the residency of a particular state before reaching 14 years. These changes coincided with the 2013 mid-season Pacific Test.