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Dave Rennie's phone call to Suliasi Vunivalu to keep him from staying in the NRL

By Online Editors
(Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie has called incoming Queensland Reds wing Suliasi Vunivalu to reassure his future in rugby union following reports of the Melbourne Storm’s eagerness to keep him in the NRL.

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The 24-year-old flyer last year signed a A$1.8m two-year deal with the Queensland Rugby Union and Rugby Australia that is due to commence in 2021.

However, the financial downfall that has come with the coronavirus pandemic has thrown that signing into a realm of uncertainty, leading Vunivalu to express some concern over his future.

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“If my contract is still there then I’m happy to go on with it, but if not then we’ll see where we go from there,” he said last week.

“My kids and family are all here in Melbourne so this is where I want to stay. I love the city and especially the club, so if they still want me here then I’d want to stay.”

Having scored 76 tries in 96 NRL matches, and dotting down a further 12 times in just eight appearances for the Fiji Bati, it’s no wonder Storm head coach Craig Bellamy made his interest in keeping Vunivalu in Melbourne as clear as possible.

“We’d certainly be very, very interested if Suli wanted to stay,” Bellamy said.

“If they can’t guarantee that they can honour Suli’s contract then we’d certainly be interested in looking at Suli staying here. I don’t know where that stands and what union are doing with their player contracts.

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“We’d love Suli to stay and if we have that opportunity well look at that. He has got a contract with the ARU [Rugby Australia], and Suli’s got to want to do that as well.”

However, a report from The Sydney Morning Herald states that Rennie has contacted Vunivalu to calm any fears about the new Reds recruit’s future after being encouraged to do so by Rugby Australia’s director of rugby Scott Johnson.

Vunivalu will act as a more than suitable replacement for outgoing Reds wing Henry Speight, who has signed a three-year deal with French club Biarritz Olympique.

The 19-cap Wallabies wing had initially signed with the Reds through until 2021 after nine seasons with the Brumbies, but will become the fourth Reds player to leave the franchise during the coronavirus lockdown period following the departures of Izack Rodda, Isaac Lucas and Harry Hockings.

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finn 9 hours ago
Massive red flag raised by weakened Champions Cup teams – Andy Goode

I wonder if the problem of some teams not taking it that seriously would be helped by making performance in the champions cup count towards qualification and/or seeding in the following year’s competition. Eg. top four seeds would be winners of the URC, premiership, and top 14, plus best performing team in the previous year’s CC who have not otherwise qualified. Doing that the seedings for this years comp. would have been: Tier one: Saracens - Munster - Toulouse - la Rochelle Tier two: Sale - Stormers - Racing 92 - Leinster Tier three: Leicester - Connacht - Bordeaux - Exeter Tier four: Northampton - Ulster - Lyon - Sharks Tier five: Harlequins - Glasgow - Stade Francais - Edinburgh Tier six: Bath - Bulls - Toulon - Ospreys The competition would probably work better with fewer teams, so I’d probably favour only the first 4 tiers being invited, and then going straight to a quarter final without a round of 16. On the one hand this would possibly incentivise teams to take the champions cup seriously, and on the other it would mean that the latter stages would be more likely to involve teams that have demonstrated a willingness to take the competition seriously. The main differences between my proposed system and the actual draw is that mine would give la Rochelle a fairly easy ride to the quarters, and would either exclude the Bulls entirely or would give then an insurmountably difficult draw. As it happened Exeter got quite an easy pool draw but that was a bit of a fluke. My system would reward Exeter for being one of the teams that demonstrably devote a lot of attention to the CC by guaranteeing them a good draw.

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