Vunivalu signs off on stellar year
Even the best can have mixed nights.
Suliasi Vunivalu has had a stellar year. The Fiji winger capped off his 23-try haul at NRL level with other nine during the World Cup and grabbed the Bati's only try against Australia on Friday night.
He had to watch as Valentine Holmes outjumped and outran him on several occasions in the Kangaroos' big win, but afterwards reflected on a satisfying year.
"It's been a really good year, especially my last two years," Vunivalu said after the match.
"I made my debut last year and continued that this year. It's been a hell of a ride and especially playing with the Fiji boys and still scoring tries. It's not just me, it's the whole pack. They make me look better. Big ups for the Fijian boys for playing their hearts out."
Despite the score-line blowing out in the ten-tries-to-one loss, the Storm winger was proud of the Bati's progression.
"This group of boys has come a long way," he said.
"We showed what we are capable of doing as a Fiji team, but we were playing the best team tonight. We will go back and come back stronger."
He rates playing with Kevin Naiqama and Jarryd Hayne as a dream come true and knows Fiji's future is bright.
"They are all up there," he said. That's what you dream of – you want to play with class players.
"It's been an honour playing alongside them. We'll come back better in the next World Cup."
Vunivalu was ready to face his club teammates like Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith, and enjoyed it despite conceding a try from a Cronk kick.
"I know it was going to be a challenge, against Smithy you know," Vunivalu said.
"He reads the game really well. He knows when we are up, so he can play set kicks. I was really looking forward to playing against them. Playing against them tonight really means a lot, especially as it makes us better players as well."
The Fijian people's passion for rugby league hasn't gone unnoticed by the Bati players. The semi-final finish was a good result for the nation, he added.
"We've been seeing videos and posts from back home. It's been good for the sport back home. At the end of the day, rugby league is winning."