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Wallabies star Jordan Petaia set for Super Rugby positional switch

By AAP

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Jordan Petaia’s much-hyped move to fullback has gained traction at the Queensland Reds.

The talented but luckless Petaia’s Wallabies tour of Europe ended midway through the side’s first test against Scotland when he damaged his hamstring in his latest injury setback.

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Viewed long-term as a fullback by Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, he had been slated to wear the No 15 for the Barbarians against Samoa in a tour-ending clash later this month in London before returning home.

His injury has ruled him out of that clash as well as this weekend’s test against Wales, although Petaia is expected to be fit ahead of next year’s Super Rugby Pacific opener against the Chiefs on February 19.

Jock Campbell and Bryce Hegarty shared the Reds’ fullback duties last season, Hegarty eventually preferred in the No 15 with Campbell on the wing as they won the Super Rugby AU title.

Reds coach Brad Thorn has previously resisted calls to shift Petaia from centre or wing into the No 15 role.

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But with Hegarty leaving the club for a stint with Leicester Tigers in England’s Premiership Rugby, the club’s football manager Sam Cordingley admits it could be Petaia’s time.

“Thorny’s always had his eye on this for quite a while,” the former Wallabies halfback said.

“He played a lot of his school rugby at 15, Thorny’s seen that as a potential opportunity for 2022.

“Without giving too much away, I’m sure Thorny sees that as a future position for Jordy.”

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Cordingley also said winger Suliasi Vunivalu would be fit to return in the “early rounds” of next season after his latest hamstring setback proved to be a significant one.

The former Melbourne Storm NRL winger re-injured his hamstring just days before he was due to enter Wallabies camp ahead of a potential debut on the Spring Tour.

He has been rehabilitating in Melbourne, where his family remain, with Rugby Australia’s strength and conditioning staff.

Meanwhile, the Reds confirmed to AAP that the entire squad would be double vaccinated ahead of the state’s changing of COVID-19 restrictions from December 17, or whenever an 80 percent double vaccination rate is reached.

Under the impending changes players would be unable to train and play at their Suncorp Stadium home if not double vaccinated.

“The Queensland Reds will have a fully vaccinated team well ahead of the Queensland Government’s double-vaccination date of December 17,” a Reds spokesperson told AAP.

“We have had a majority of our squad fully vaccinated for some time. Currently 97 per cent of the Reds senior squad players have received both COVID doses.”

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