‘I want to come back’: Storm send off Suliasi with Fijian hymn tribute

Suliasi Vunivalu.Picture: NRL

SYDNEY, 27 OCTOBER 2020 (NRL) – Suliasi Vunivalu is already eyeing off a return to Melbourne after his teammates learned a Fijian hymn to give him a moving farewell long after the masses had left ANZ Stadium.

Vunivalu’s final outing in purple proved a spectacular one on Sunday night, with his 80-metre intercept of Nathan Cleary’s long ball a critical 12-point swing in the Storm’s 26-20 triumph.

The Fijian flyer told NRL.com he is “still having second thoughts” about his lucrative return to rugby with the Queensland Reds on a two-year deal that was confirmed last December.

Financially the move is a no-brainer for the 24-year-old winger and his young family, but he has explored more than once this year whether the Reds contract would be honoured given rugby union’s financial struggles after the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a nod to the esteem Vunivalu holds among his teammates, the Storm returned to the soggy ANZ Stadium turf at 1am with a moving farewell for their star winger.

NRL.com understands Melbourne players learned the words to the Fijian hymn, “Noqu Masu”, while in camp on the Sunshine Coast.

The song has provided some stirring moments throughout rugby league’s recent history, having been sung by national side, the Bati, before games since the 2008 World Cup.

Speaking before receiving his emotional send-off from his teammates, Vunivalu said he would be well and truly open to a Storm reunion at some point in his career.

“I want to come back and finish off here some day,” he said.

“I’m still having second thoughts about [his rugby move], to be honest.

“I want to stay but I’ve got to take that new challenge for myself.

“And there’s younger boys coming through the club too so I’ll give way to them.

“I’m trying not to think about that tonight, I’m in the moment now and celebrating.

“I’m very, very happy right now. It’s my last year so going out with a ring is very special.

“I was thinking leading into the game how tough it would be to go out on a loss. This is my fourth grand final and I’ve had two wins, I definitely didn’t want to be 1-3.

“I’m so grateful to Craig [Bellamy] and everyone here. I didn’t know anything about rugby league when I first turned up.

“But I was always a big fan, so when my manager told me ‘Storm want you’ I was straight on it. ‘Take me there, I want to meet Billy Slater’.”

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