Suliasi Vunivalu will return to rugby union action on Friday after being named for the Queensland Reds in a trial game against a NSW Waratahs side featuring former Brisbane Broncos flyer Izaia Perese.
Melbourne convert Vunivalu was sent straight into Wallabies camp after winning last year’s NRL title and has turned heads with his athleticism and aerial prowess since his arrival at Ballymore.
Vunivalu played rugby as a junior in his native Fiji and New Zealand before the Storm swooped, the 25-year-old leaving the 13-man game with 86 tries from 111 games.
Both teams have named a host of inexperienced faces for the clash in Narrabri, with only three of the Reds’ 11 Wallabies – Fraser McReight, Filipo Daugunu and captain Liam Wright – in their 25-man squad.
The Waratahs have named Jack Maddocks, Angus Bell, Will Harrison and Perese on a strong bench with unheralded Tane Edmed at five-eighth, in the only trial game before the sides clash in the Super Rugby AU opener on February 19.
Perese was sacked by the Broncos for drug-related offences early last year but had previously been in the Wallabies frame while playing for the Reds.
Exciting fullback/winger Mac Grealy is among 10 uncapped Reds in coach Brad Thorn’s squad.
“It’s a good opportunity for some our new guys to step-up,” Thorn said.
“They’ve worked hard in the pre-season and they’ll get their chance to show that on Friday night.
“The Waratahs will provide a good contest and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
– Murray Wenzel
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