Rugby Australia has today announced the signing of Melbourne Storm Premiership-winning winger Suliasi Vunivalu on a two-year contract from 2021.
The Fijian-born flyer will switch back to the code he played as a schoolboy in New Zealand, making the shift from Melbourne to Brisbane to link with the Queensland Reds for the 2021 and 2022 Vodafone Super Rugby seasons.
Vunivalu made his NRL debut for Storm in 2016 and quickly set the league alight, breaking the record for the most tries of any player in his first two seasons and currently has a total of 72 tries in 94 appearances at the club.
Born in Suva, Vunivalu moved from Fiji to New Zealand at 16 and played Rugby at Auckland’s St Kentigern College.
After impressing in schoolboy Rugby, he made the Auckland Blues development squad before being poached by rugby league and moved to Melbourne as an 18-year-old with the Storm’s U20s squad.
Now at 24, the electrifying back is one of the game’s most feared finishers after topping the NRL’s try scoring list in his first two seasons and starting in three consecutive Grand Finals from 2016 to 2018. He has also starred at the international level, scoring 12 tries in eight Tests for the Fiji Bati.
Rugby Australia Director of Rugby, Scott Johnson said: “This is a very good signing for Australian Rugby and the Reds.
“Suliasi was a standout schoolboy Rugby player, he is an elite finisher with a lot of big game experience for a young man and will have an immediate impact for the Reds in 2021 and put himself right in the frame for higher honours.
“He is one player we have been looking at very closely this year with the skillset we are looking for in the outside backs. He has been working in a great environment at the Storm and has chosen a future in Rugby, so it is a great result for the game.”
Vunivalu remains contracted to Melbourne Storm for the 2020 NRL season and will join the Reds at Ballymore for the 2021 Vodafone Super Rugby pre-season.
Place of birth: Suva, Fiji
School: St Kentigern College, Auckland (NZ)
Representative Honours (Rugby League): Melbourne Storm (2016-2019), Fiji Bati (2017-2019)