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'He's got to convince us': Dave Rennie issues challenge to Suliasi Vunivalu

By AAP
(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Denied a Wallabies jersey in Brisbane, Suliasi Vunivalu has been ordered to go “balls out” by his coach before he is handed a test debut.

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The former NRL premiership winger is in camp with the Wallabies, but was not been selected for the first test in Perth last week or Saturday’s clash with England at Suncorp Stadium.

A series-ending hamstring injury to Andrew Kellaway saw Dave Rennie push Jordan Petaia to fullback and promote Tom Wright to the wing and Izaia Perese onto the bench.

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They are moves the coach says offer flexibility across the backline positions.

Queensland Reds flyer Vunivalu, who has recommitted to Rugby Australia for the 2023 World Cup year, could have been playing for Australia A in the concurrent Pacific Nations Cup.

Rennie defended the move to keep him with the top squad, saying he’s nearing a debut after a frustrating run of hamstring injuries since switching codes last year.

“Being in camp with us (rather than with Australia A) allows us to put a lot of extra time into him,” Rennie said.

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“We know he’s a good athlete but we want to get him sharp and running fast.

“He’s quicker than what he’s shown at Super (Rugby) level. We reckon he’s ready to fly, he’s got to convince us at training that he can go balls out.

“So the best place for him is here to get a lot of work into him.”

There are still ample opportunities for Vunivalu before next year’s World Cup in France.

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The Wallabies play England again in Sydney next week before two tests in Argentina in August are followed by Rugby Championship fixtures on home soil and across the Tasman against New Zealand and South Africa.

The Wallabies will also play five Tests in Europe on their end-of-season tour.

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