Australian rugby union’s highest-profile signing this year, rugby league convert Suliasi Vunivalu, is to miss the opening round of Super Rugby AU matches on Friday after being charged by police over an incident at a Brisbane bar.
The Fiji-born winger moved to the Queensland Reds after scoring 86 tries in 111 matches over four seasons for National Rugby League champions the Melbourne Storm and was due to make his debut against the New South Wales Waratahs.
“Vunivalu has been charged with allegedly pushing a security guard at a licensed venue in Brisbane,” Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) said in a statement yesterday. “The QRU have taken the immediate step to stand down Vunivalu for Friday’s match ... for bringing the club and the game into disrepute. The QRU has also issued Vunivalu a formal written warning, a fine of A$10,000 [US$7,782] and the club will provide Suliasi with counselling and support.”
Vunivalu, who trained with Australia during the Tri-Nations last year, yesterday asked to face the media as he did not want to “hide away.”
“I’m embarrassed to be in this position, and I apologize to the QRU and my teammates for that,” Vunivalu told reporters in Brisbane. “I understand the position the QRU have taken, they expect a high standard of players and I do as well. I look forward to the matter being resolved.”
Vunivalu is to have a court hearing on April 19, the QRU said.
The second season of Super Rugby AU, introduced last year after the pan-continental version was brought to a halt by the COVID-19 pandemic, starts on Friday with a double-header.
Western Force host reigning champions the ACT Brumbies in Perth in the second match.
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