Former NRL star’s rugby career stalls yet again

Suliasi Vunivalu has been grounded again with the luckless former NRL champion scratched from the Reds side to host the Chiefs in Brisbane on Friday night.

The winger was originally named in Brad Thorn’s starting lineup on Wednesday but succumbed to a problematic injury and was removed on Thursday.

“He has some tightness in his hamstring so we’re just making sure he’s in a good space with that,” Thorn said.

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“It was a short week (six day turnaround) – 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 about these things.”

The former Storm star played just seven Super Rugby games last season and missed the opening seven matches of the 2022 campaign.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is naturally interested in his potential but the speedster isn’t stringing enough games together and was held in check by the Hurricanes last weekend.

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Slick Reds blow Hurricanes away

REDS vs CHIEFS, Friday 7.45pm AEST in Brisbane

REDS (15-1): Jock Campbell, Filipo Daugunu, Hunter Paisami, Hamish Stewart, Josh Flook, Lawson Creighton, Tate McDermott (c), Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight, Angus Scott-Young, Angus Blyth, Ryan Smith, Taniela Tupou, Richie Asiata, Harry Hoopert

Reservations: Matt Faessler, Dane Zander, Feao Fotuaika, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Seru Uru, Kalani Thomas, Floyd Aubrey, Mac Grealy

HEADS (15-1): Chase Tiatia, Jonah Lowe, Alex Nankivell, Rameka Poihipi, Quinn Tupaea, Bryn Gatland, Cortez Ratima, Pita Gus Sowakula, Kaylum Boshier, Luke Jacobson (c), Tupou Vaa’i, Josh Lord, Angus Ta’avao, Samisoni Taukei’ aho, Aidan Ross

Reservations: Bradley Slater, Atu Moli, George Dyer, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Samipeni Finau, Mitch Brown, Xavier Roe, Rivez Reihana

Sean Maloney and Andrew Mehrtens are joined by Justin Marshall from the Stan Sport sofa. The Kiwi duo discuss the old days at the Crusaders, All Blacks and on tour as well as a review of Super Round, including a thrilling Super W final

FORCE vs BLUES, Friday 10pm AEST in Perth

STRENGTH (15-1): Jake Strachan/Jake McIntyre, Toni Pulu, Kyle Godwin, Bayley Kuenzle, Manasa Mataele, Reesjan Pasitoa, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Ollie Callan, Kane Koteka, Fergus Lee-Warner, Izack Rodda, Ryan McCauley, Santiago Medrano, Feleti Kaitu’u (c), Tom Robertson

Reservations: Andrew Ready, Bo Abra, Greg Holmes, Jeremy Thrush, Tim Anstee, Alex Masibaka, Ian Prior, Richard Kahui

BLUES (15-1): Zarn Sullivan, AJ Lam, Bryce Heem, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Caleb Clarke, Beauden Barrett, Finlay Christie, Anton Segner, Dalton Papalii (c), Akira Ioane, Sam Darry, Luke Romano, Ofa Tuungafasi, Kurt Eklund, Alex Hodgman

Reservations: Ricky Riccitelli, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Marcel Renata, Jams Tucker, Taufa Funaki, Tanielu Tele’a, Mark Telea

Drua blitz Blues with champagne try

DRUA vs HIGHLANDERS, Saturday 2.35pm AEST in Suva

DRUA (15-1): Kitione Taliga, Selestino Ravutaumada, Apisalome Vota, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Vinaya Habosi, Teti Tela, Frank Lomani, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Vilive Miramira, Meli Derenalagi (c), Ratu Rotuisolia, Isoa Nasilasila, Manasa Saulo, Mesu Dolokoto, Haereiti Hetet

Reservations: Tevita Ikanivere, Meli Tuni, Samu Tawake, Viliame Rarasea, Joseva Tamani, Simeone Kuruvoli, Onisi Ratave, Kitione Ratu

HIGHLANDERS (15-1): Connor Garden-Bachop, Sam Gilbert, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Fetuli Paea, Scott Gregory, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith (c), Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Billy Harmon, Christian Lio-Willie, Sam Caird, Bryn Evans, Jermaine Ainsley, Andrew Makalio, Daniel Lienert-Brown

Reservations: Rhys Marshall, Ethan de Groot, Josh Hohneck, Max Hicks, James Lentjes, Folau Fakatava, Marty Banks, Hugh Renton

WARATAHS vs CRUSADERS, Saturday 5.05pm AEST in Sydney

WARATAHS (15-1): Alex Newsome, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Izaia Perese, Lalakai Foketi, Dylan Pietsch, Tane Edmed, Jake Gordon, Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, Michael Hooper, Charlie Gamble, Hugh Sinclair, Jed Holloway, Harry Johnson-Holmes Mahe Vailanu, Angus Bell

Reservations: TBC, Tetera Faulkner, Archer Holz, Geoff Cridge, Will Harris, Jack Grant, Ben Donaldson, James Ramm

CRUSADERS (15-1): Will Jordan, Sevu Reece, Jack Goodhue, David Havili, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Fergus Burke, Bryn Hall, Cullen Grace, Tim Christie, Pablo Matera, Sam Whitelock, Zach Gallagher, Oli Jager, Codie Taylor (c), George Bower

Reservations: Ricky Jackson, Tamaiti Williams, Fletcher Newell, Dominic Gardiner, Sione Havili Talitui, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Simon Hickey, Dallas McLeod

REBELS vs MOANA PASIFIKA, Saturday 7.45pm AEST in Melbourne

REBELS (15-1): Reece Hodge, Andrew Kellaway, Stacey Ili, Ray Nu’u, Glen Vaihu, Carter Gordon, James Tuttle, Michael Wells (c), Richard Hardwick, Brad Wilkin, Rob Leota, Matt Philip, Cabous Eloff, James Hanson, Cameron Orr

Reservations: Efi Ma’afu, Matt Gibbon, Pone Fa’amausili, Josh Hill, Tamati Ioane, Joe Powell, Nick Jooste, George Worth

MOANA PASIFIKA (15-1): Danny Toala, Tima Fainga’anuku, Levi Aumua, Henry Taefu, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Christian Leali’ifano, Ereatara Enari, Henry Time-Stowers, Alamanda Motuga, Michael Curry, Samuel Slade, Veikoso Poloniati, Sekope Kepu (c), Ray Niuia , Abraham Pole

Reservations: Luteru Tolai, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Joe ‘Apikotoa, Sione Tu’ipulotu, Solomone Funaki, Jonathan Taumateine, Lincoln McClutchie, Solomone Kata

Wright’s all-time put-down clanger

BRUMBIES vs HURRICANES, Sunday 2pm AEST in Canberra

BRUMBIES (15-1): Tom Banks, Tom Wright, Len Ikitau, Irae Simone, Andy Muirhead, Noah Lolesio, Nic White (c), Pete Samu, Jahrome Brown, Rob Valetini, Caderyn Neville, Darcy Swain, Sefo Kautai, Lachlan Lonergan, Scott Sio

Reservations: Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper, Tom Ross, Tom Hooper, Luke Reimer, Ryan Lonergan, Hudson Creighton, Ollie Sapsford

HURRICANES (15-1): Jordie Barrett, Julian Savea, Bailyn Sullivan, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Salesi Rayasi, Jackson Garden-Bachop, TJ Perenara, Ardie Savea (c), Blake Gibson, Te Kamaka Howden, Justin Sangster, James Blackwell, Tyrel Lomax, James O’ Reilly, Pouri Rakete-Stones

Reservations: Kianu Kereru-Symes, Xavier Numia, Tevita Mafileo, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Caleb Delany, Jamie Booth, Aidan Morgan, Billy Proctor

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