Melbourne — 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.

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 the Waratahs on Friday.

“Vunivalu has been charged with allegedly pushing a security guard at a licensed venue in Brisbane,” Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) said in a statement on Tuesday. “The QRU has 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 $7,801 and the club will provide Suliasi with counselling and support.”

Vunivalu, who trained with the Australia squad during the Tri-Nations in 2020, asked to face the media on Tuesday as he did not want to “hide away”.

“I’m embarrassed to be in this position and I apologise to the QRU and my teammates for that,” he told reporters in Brisbane. “I understand the position the QRU has taken, they expect a high standard of players and I do as well. I look forward to the matter being resolved.”

Vunivalu will have a court hearing on April 19, the QRU said.

The second season of Super Rugby AU, introduced in 2020 after the pancontinental version was brought to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic, starts on Friday with a double-header. Western Force host the reigning champions, the Brumbies, in Perth in the second match of the evening.


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