The Queensland Reds have officially confirmed reports that Melbourne Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu will switch from the NRL to rugby and join the club in 2021.
“As a group we look forward to welcoming Suliasi Vunivalu back to rugby and to Queensland in 2021,” Reds coach Brad Thorn said.
“Suliasi grew up playing rugby in New Zealand before becoming one of the NRL’s most exciting players.
“He’s an impressive talent and has an awesome ability to find the try-line. He brings good experience too with almost 100 NRL games for Melbourne and 12 rugby league Tests for Fiji. Suliasi will be a great addition to our program.”
Vunivalu will be eligible to play for the Wallabies and reportedly has his sights set on a 2023 World Cup appearance.
The Fijian native is contracted to the Storm until the end of 2020 but won’t extend his stay in the 13-a-side code, instead electing to join the Reds for the 2021 season and beyond.
Despite earlier reports that the Storm may choose to release him from his contract 12 months early, Vunivalu will play out the remainder of his contract in the NRL.
Vunivalu played the 15-a-side code growing up in Fiji, while also playing for Auckland’s Saint Kentigern College. At age 17, he was signed to the Blues Super Rugby development team, before ultimately moving over to rugby league with the Storm in 2014.
The 24-year-old has been a try-scoring machine since making his debut in 2016, crossing 72 times in 94 matches for the Storm. He was the NRL’s equal-leading try-scorer in both 2016 and 2017. He’s also scored 12 tries in eight Tests for Fiji.
While Vunivalu is still playing for Melbourne next season, the news comes as yet another blow to Craig Bellamy’s side, who have already lost Brodie Croft (Broncos), Curtis Scott (Raiders) and Will Chambers (Japanese rugby) from their backline and may yet still lose Josh Addo-Carr, who’s been linked with a move to a Sydney-based side.