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'He owes the Reds and RA': Ex-Wallabies star's message for Suliasi Vunivalu

(Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Lote Tuqiri says fellow code-hopper and hamstrung winger Suliasi Vunivalu still owes rugby and that the World Cup carrot should be enough to stop a rugby league return.


The Queensland Reds talent hasn’t played this season and was kept to just seven games in 2021 thanks to repeated hamstring injuries that have required two surgeries.

The Melbourne Storm premiership winner managed five tries in those appearances though and, with a return imminent, could still play his way into test calculations later this year ahead of the 2023 World Cup in France.

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Vunivalu is off-contract beyond this season though, with new NRL franchise the Dolphins and coach Wayne Bennett among those circling.

A strong return from injury in coming weeks would give Rugby Australia confidence to back the recruit into another deal.

A standout World Cup campaign next year could then attract a big-money offer from a European or Japanese club that would secure his long-term financial future.

Retired dual-code star Tuqiri said he felt for Vunivalu but that there were at least two good reasons to stay put at Ballymore.


“He’s had some bad luck, real bad luck,” he said.

“He’s a top liner; you want to see him out there and he’ll want to show what he can do before he makes his next decision.

“And he probably owes the Reds and RA a bit, not having done too much yet.

“(The World Cup) is massive, it’s one of the reasons I switched codes … and two of the best experiences I’ve had were here in 2003 and France 2007; I still remember all those games vividly.

“You want to tick every box before making those decisions (on your future) and if that’s me, I want to go to a World Cup and he potentially can. It’s a big lure.”


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