Suliasi Vunivalu was so focused on Melbourne’s NRL grand final that he had forgotten when he was due to check in at the Queensland Reds.
The dual premiership winner found out from his manager on Monday that he’s required around Christmas after committing to the Reds and Rugby Australia on a two-year deal.
“I’m not sure. I’ve wanted to focus on this first,” Vunivalu told AAP after bagging a breathtaking 80-metre intercept try that took the wind out of Penrith’s sails in the Storm’s 26-20 triumph.
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy hailed the flying winger as his side’s best in the first half at ANZ Stadium and the 24-year-old’s cross-code defection looms as a major blow for the Storm.
The premiers are also almost certain to lose fellow representative winger Josh Addo-Carr.
After the entire Storm squad sang a Fijian hymn in the middle of ANZ Stadium as a touching farewell, Vunivalu admits it’ll be a wrench leaving the NRL superpower.
But hi s heart lies in the 15-man code following a hugely successful five-season stint at the Storm.
“Yeah, it’s going to be hard to walk away. This is a very special group we have here,” he said.
“But I’m a rugby boy. I only started playing league when I came to the Storm.”
Wallabies and Reds five-eighth James O’Connor has no doubt Vunivalu – a 2017 rugby league world player of the year nominee – is ready to make his mark in rugby.
“He’s a freak athlete. You saw that,” O’Connor said on Monday.
“He’s a tall man, can move well and he seems like he’s got a good knowledge of the game.”
The Suva-born star himself is making no secret of the fact he’s hoping to become the latest dual international, be it on the wing or in the centres for the Wallabies.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t,” he said.
“It would be a dream to wear the green and gold Wallabies jersey.”
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