Queensland Reds star Suliasi Vunivalu looks set to turn his back on a return to the NRL with the Dolphins by pursuing his dream of playing for the Wallabies at the Rugby Union World Cup.
The former Melbourne Storm ace has had a frustrating time since switching codes. The flying winger has been stopped in his tracks by hamstring issues that required two operations. But after almost a year on the sidelines, Vunivalu is now back playing.
He played for 50 minutes as the Reds beat Melbourne by four points on Friday night. Vunivalu showed off his skills and more importantly came through the game unscathed.
The 26-year-old admitted it was an emotional moment as he returned to playing. He has managed just seven games in two years and playing at AAMI Park made it even more special.
“It’s been a long and frustrating process so it was good to be back playing again,” he told reporters after the game. “This is where I played so many games so I was excited to get back home.”
However it looks as though a move back to the NRL is off the menu for now. Speculation is rife that Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett would love to bring him back.
Bennett has a roster to fill and sees Vunivalu as the perfect addition. During his 111 appearances for the Storm he scored 86 tries. If he could stay fit and get anywhere near that kind of return again, Bennett would be delighted.
Even so it looks as though the winger is keen to stay where he is. He will be off-contract at the end of the season but his dream is to play for the Wallabies at the World Cup.
Suliasi Vunivalu aware of rumours
Vunivalu is well aware of the Dolphins rumours. And no doubt other NRL clubs would be keen if he became available. But for now he is focused on the Reds and rugby union.
“Yes, I’d love to play in the World Cup,” Vunivalu added. “This is my last year on my contract so I’m just trying to focus on playing good footy.
“There’s been rumours around (about league) – I’m not sure if my manager’s not telling me anything – but I’m just trying to get back to playing again and let my footy do the talking.”
The Dolphins would no doubt be able to offer big money to try and tempt him back. But cash is not the motivator for Vunivalu who is eyeing World Cup glory.