Wallabies welcome code-hopping dynamo to team camp

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read
Ex-Melbourne Storm star Suliasi Vunivalu is pictured after scoring a try in the NRL.
Ex-Melbourne Storm star Suliasi Vunivalu is set to complete his code switch from the NRL to rugby, after scoring an invite to the national team's camp. (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

NRL premiership-winning star Suliasi Vunivalu will get his first taste of the Wallabies when he joins their training camp in the NSW Hunter Valley on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old called an end to Melbourne's NRL grand final celebrations to focus on the next stage of his career, which is a return to rugby union.

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The winger signed a two-year deal with the Queensland Reds and Rugby Australia.

While he's highly unlikely to play a role in Australia's remaining two Tri-Nations Tests against Argentina, the camp will be an initiation for Vunivalu.

His former Melbourne teammate Marika Koroibete trod the same path when he switched codes after the Storm's NRL grand final loss to Cronulla in 2016.

Koroibete joined the Wallabies in Europe on their Spring tour although didn't make his Test debut until September the following year and has since established himself as one of the side's top performers.

Fiji-born Vunivalu played rugby as a teenager and attended Saint Kentigern College in Auckland, which produced All Blacks Joe Rokocoko and Jerome Kaino.

Vunivalu was spotted by the Storm and lured to Melbourne as an 18-year-old, and in his debut season in 2016 was the top try scorer in the NRL.

The Wallabies have already blooded two wingers through the Bledisloe Cup with Tom Wright scoring with his first touch against the All Blacks last Saturday, while Vunivalu's new Reds teammate Filipo Daugunu has also impressed.

The Australians' next match is against the Pumas at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle on November 21.

Disbelief over Wallabies flanker's massive ban

Wallabies rising star Lachie Swinton’s aggressive approach in the Tri-Nations game cost his team a red card and now it seems it could cost him a stint on the sidelines.

The Aussies bounced back from their trouncing in Sydney to down the All Blacks 24-22 in a chaotic match that featured two red cards and two yellow cards.

Swinton left referee Nic Berry no choice but to produce a red card - which All Blacks star Ofa Tu'ungafasi received earlier - after he collected Sam Whitelock without using his arms in the tackle.

Their departures changed the dynamic of the contest, with Australia controlling the chaos better to escape with a narrow win in a series already secured by the visitors.

The send-offs sparked heated debate about the lack of wiggle room in the law, which suggests contact with the head should result in a red card.

At the time, Fox Sports commentators Justin Harrison and Phil Kearns were both highly critical of the rulings.

But rugby’s governing body has handed Swinton a four-week ban, which will see him ruled out of the remaining two matches with Argentina in the Tri-Nations.

Wallabies star Lachie Swinton walks off the field after being sent off during the fourth 2020 Tri-Nations. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)
Wallabies star Lachie Swinton walks off the field after being sent off during the fourth 2020 Tri-Nations. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

NRL legend Laurie Daley weighed-in on the controversy and was “stunned” at the harsh punishment.

“I’m stunned,” NRL great Laurie Daley said on Big Sports Breakfast.

“You’d think a send-off would be sufficient or just one week.”

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