Powerful attacking weapon Suliasi Vunivalu has started his Super Rugby career with a whimper after being forced to miss his first game due to an off-field incident.
Vunivalu has been dropped from the Queensland Reds first game of 2021 after he was accused of pushing a security guard at a licensed venue in Brisbane. The controversy also earned the star recruit a $10,000 fine and a very tame nomination for The Frownlow Medal.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while AFL player Elijah Taylor is the most recent recipient.
Vunivalu is one of the highest profile recruits for the Super Rugby competition in 2021. He won premierships with the Melbourne Storm in the NRL and trained with the Wallabies in late 2020, after impressing Rugby coaches with his raw athleticism and try scoring potential. Now he won’t even play the first game of the season against arch rivals NSW.
The Fijian-born star will have to work hard to win the trust of his new teammates, and to win The Frownlow Medal in 2021.