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Suli set for sizzling year

Marco Monteverde -

Former NRL premiership-winning winger Suliasi Vunivalu is poised to have his best year since switching codes as he targets a permanent spot in the Queensland and Wallabies backline.

After moving to rugby ahead of the 2021 season, Vunivalu struggled with injuries and form, failing to cement a pace the Reds side, and not doing enough to impress then Wallabies coach Dave Rennie.

However, his fortunes turned last year as enjoyed more game time for Queensland and caught the eye of recently departed Wallabies coach Eddie Jones, who was willing to gamble on Vunivalu's talent and potential.

The Fiji-born flyer was named in Australia's Rugby World Cup squad, and despite not securing a starting spot during a campaign in France marred by news that Jones had been interviewed for the Japan job he later accepted, Vunivalu gained confidence from the experience.

Suliasi Vunivalu is keen to cement a spot in Australia's backline. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Suliasi Vunivalu is keen to cement a spot in Australia's backline. (Image: Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

"I'm feeling good – last year was my best since I moved to rugby," he said.

"I had a goal of representing the Wallabies and making it to the World Cup.

"(Eddie) was good to me. I have nothing bad to say about him. He's always been good to me, and he's been good to most of the boys."

"Whatever was going on with Eddie, it's just the same as any player. If you're negotiating a contract, you're doing it privately."

Vunivalu was confident his game would further improve this season under new Reds coach Les Kiss, another former rugby league winger who represented Queensland at State of Origin level and the Kangaroos in four Tests.

"I didn't find out that Les used to play rugby league until a week and a half ago when I had a chat with my manager," a laughing Vunivalu said.

"Then I spoke to him one day after training last week and said to him 'you came from league as well, what's with these all these league wingers joining rugby union?'.

"Les wants me to be busy around the park creating options so there's a space somewhere on the field.

"I'm doing everything, pretty much like a fullback, roaming at the back."

Vunivalu was also happy to discover that Kiss was at one stage an assistant coach to new Wallabies mentor Joe Schmidt during the latter's tenure as Ireland coach.

"It's a good boost for myself and I'm really excited about what I can do," said Vunivalu, who hopes to impress Schmidt during the Super Rugby Pacific season.

"It's exciting bit of it you can't get too excited if you don't put in the work. If I do the work, it will all pay off."

Marco Monteverde - NCA NewsWire


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