Suliasi Vunivalu is again available for Queensland selection, but he might find it hard to secure a starting berth.
James O’Connor admits prized Reds’ recruit Suliasi Vunivalu might have to be content with a spot off the bench when he makes his belated Super Rugby AU debut for Queensland against the Melbourne Rebels on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium.
The former Melbourne Storm NRL premiership-winger was stood down by the Reds from last week’s season opener against the Waratahs after being charged with common assault following an altercation with a security guard last month.
Vunivalu’s absence had no affect on the Reds, who thrashed the Waratahs 41-7.
Wallabies pair Jordan Petaia and Filipo Daugunu were Queensland’s starting wingers, while young gun Ilaisa Droasese also had impact off the bench, scoring the game’s final try out wide.
“He (Vunivalu) has got to impress on the training field, and after that performance, the guys held their own,” said O’Connor, the Reds captain in the ongoing absence of the injured Liam Wright.
“Even Ila coming on, he did really well. I thought he positioned himself and got on the end of a nice little set play move from us.
“Suli’s an unbelievable athlete and I’ve got all the confidence in what he can do, but that’s the coach’s decision not mine.”
It’s a pleasant selection headache for Reds coach Brad Thorn, whose side demolished the Waratahs in the five-tries-to-one win.
However, in a warning to the Rebels, O’Connor said he and Queensland could improve on the performance.
“We didn’t lose our way, but we might have got a little bit open, a little bit too loose at times, which has been our big focus this year, knowing how to close the game out,” the Wallabies flyhalf said.
“For myself personally I made quite a few errors in that match which I wasn’t too happy with.”
O’Connor was keen to improve his kicking game.
“I broke through the fundamentals with (kicking coach) Dave Alred in terms of my kicking technique,” he said.
“But now it’s a whole new level to the game, being able to spot space and identify, and put the right kick in at the right time.”