From Toorak to Melbourne
“No matter how many setbacks you have, just keep going on and focus on what you want to achieve. It’ll happen, work hard and never give up.”
These were the words of 21-year-old, Suliasi Vunivalu who is currently taking the rugby league world by storm. The Melbourne Storm winger is the latest Fijian sensation as he has scored 23 tries in his first NRL season.
From his humble beginnings in Bagasau, Toorak in Suva, Vunivalu had always dreamt of playing professional rugby. Never in his wildest dreams did he think it would come true for him at a young age.
“I started playing rugby when I was 10-years-old because I always enjoy watching how the local teams play,” he told SUNsports.
“I always dreamed about playing professional rugby but I never thought my dream would come true. I feel really blessed to be where I am today.”
Growing up in Charles Street, Toorak, Vunivalu attended Nehru Memorial Primary School. Even though the school focused more on academic than sports he held on to his passion for rugby.
He said it was from high school at Lelean Memorial School in Davuilevu where his dream started to take off.
“I spent two years in Fiji playing rugby for Lelean Memorial School and then I got a scholarship to St Kentigern College in Auckland, New Zealand. I spent two years (2012 and 2013) in New Zealand and it was when I came to Melbourne to play in a curtain raiser match that Melbourne Storm scouts identified me. In 2014 I started with Melbourne Storm and has been there ever since.”
As a promising footballer Vunivalu gives credit of his success to his hardworking parents who had been his pillar of strength.
“My parents are proud of me and what I have achieved. They are hardworking, loving and caring people and they always put me and my brothers and sisters first before their own needs.
“My dad was my role model when I was young and he is still today. He always works hard to provide for us and he looked after us and made sure that we are always happy. It is my goal to repay him for everything he has done for us.
“I have my friends and family to thank for where I am now. They have always been supportive of me and always motivate me do better,” he said.
Although Vunivalu has broken Israel Folau’s rookie try record earlier this month he has little time to celebrate that as he now spends more time enjoying his new role as a dad.