Bel­lamy Finds An­other Fly­ing Fi­jian Sen­sa­tion

Vu­ni­valu is con­tracted un­til the end of 2017

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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.

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