Australian rugby’s highest profile recruit suspended after bar incident

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Australian rugby’s highest profile signing for 2021, rugby league convert Suliasi Vunivalu, will miss the opening round of Super Rugby AU on Friday after being charged by police over an incident at a Brisbane bar.

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The Fiji-born winger moved to the Reds after scoring 86 tries in 111 matches over four seasons for National Rugby League (NRL) champions the Melbourne Storm and was due to make his debut against Waratahs on Friday.

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“Vunivalu has been charged with allegedly pushing a security guard at a licensed venue in Brisbane,” Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) said in a statement.

“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 and the club will provide Suliasi with counselling and support.”

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The second season of Super Rugby AU, introduced last year after the pan-continental version was brought to a halt by the new coronavirus pandemic, starts on Friday with a double-header.

The Western Force host the reigning champions Brumbies in Perth in the second match of the day.

The Rebels have a bye in Week 1.

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