Bellamy Finds Another Flying Fijian Sensation
Vunivalu is contracted until the end of 2017
Melbourne Storm has unearthed another Fijian superstar in Suliasi Vunivalu as coach Craig Bellamy braces for winger Marika Koroibete to embark on a $700,000 defection to rugby union. Bellamy took aim at NRL hierarchy, which has yet to open its much-touted war chest despite Koroibete set to announce a big-money code switch to the Melbourne Rebels. But the Storm already have another Fijian flyer ready to fill the Koroibete void in Vunivalu, who has made a stunning entry to the top grade.
It is some measure of the 20-year-old’s talent that Vunivalu has become just the fourth player in rugby league’s 108-year history to score two tries in his first three games. Vunivalu crossed for a double on debut against Wests Tigers, repeated the effort in a 42-0 thumping of the Warriors and backed up with another brace to inspire a 38-0 rout of the Titans. Bellamy couldn’t even pronounce Vunivalu’s name a few months ago but the Storm coach says the 99kg winger, tied to feeder-club Easts Tigers in the Intrust Super Cup, can be an NRL sensation.
“He has been a joy to coach. We just hope Suliasi can keep having a free run with injuries and we’ll have a special player,” Bellamy said. “He learns quickly and he wants to learn quickly, some guys think they know best straight away but he doesn’t, he soaks it up and wants to learn. He is always asking questions. “At the end of last year we were planning to play him, but he didn’t do too much in the pre-season, he’s had a bad run injury-wise.
“But with our injuries lately, it (Vunivalu’s NRL debut) was basically forced on us, that’s being honest, but how he has handled it has been outstanding.
“We all knew he had a lot of ability athletically and footy-wise, but what he has shown is more than what we thought.” Born in Fiji, the 192cm flyer is tall and muscular and has a knack of finding the tryline. Vunivalu was spotted by Storm scout Paul Bunn playing rugby in New Zealand and entered the Storm system in 2014 after attending St Kentigern College in Auckland. Vunivalu is contracted until the end of 2017 but the Storm have no intention of losing another Fijian talent. “He’s only played about 20 games of rugby league in his life, but he makes hard things look easy sometimes,” Bellamy said.
“He is a tremendous kid, he is very respectful and hardworking and hopefully he can get a decent run with injuries.”
We all knew he had a lot of ability athletically and footywise, but what he has shown is more than what we thought. He’s only played about 20 games of rugby league in his life, but he makes hard things look easy sometimes. Craig Bellamy Melbourne Storm coach
Marika Koroibete to join the Melbourne Rebels in 2017.
New blood, Suliasi Vunivalu.