SYDNEY: Queensland Reds winger Suliasi Vunivalu will miss this weekend's Super Rugby clash against the Waikato Chiefs because of a tight hamstring in another blow to his hopes of becoming a dual code international.
A Fiji test player in rugby league, Vunivalu was considered almost a certainty for the Wallabies when he made a high profile switch to the 15-man code after winning the National Rugby League title with Melbourne Storm in 2020.
A succession of injuries limited him to seven Super Rugby appearances last season, however, and his run out in the 30-17 loss to the Wellington Hurricanes last week was only his second outing of this year.
"Just a little bit of tightness in his hamstring so we're just making sure he's in a good space with that," Reds coach Brad Thorn told reporters, explaining why Vunivalu had been withdrawn from the team to play the Chiefs on Friday (Apr 29).
"Better to be safe than sorry. We were looking to play him but a little bit of tightness, so we've got to be smart around those things."
Wallabies flyer Filipo Daugunu will replace Vunivalu on the wing with Floyd Aubrey coming onto the bench with the chance of making his debut.
The Reds beat the Chiefs 40-34 last year in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, one of only two wins for Australian sides against New Zealand opposition in the competition.
They were outscored 31-7 in the second half of that match, however, and blew a 17-0 lead against the Hurricanes last week.
"The Chiefs have been playing well consistently for many years now," former All Black Thorn added.
"If we get out game right, we think we can compete. Just our discipline ... If you're opening that door, handing the ball over against New Zealand sides, you get hurt."