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Vunivalu ready for giant challenge against Rhinos

Smith set for World Club Challenge

Topping the Telstra Premiership's try-scoring charts for the past two years isn't enough for Melbourne Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu. 

The excitement machine had another stellar season in 2017, winning the grand final before starring for Fiji in the World Cup. He was also nominated for the Golden Boot Award. He has now set his sights set on becoming a leader in Melbourne. 

Fiji went down to Australia at the semi-final stage of the World Cup, a run Vunivalu took plenty from.

''We didn’t have [a] Billy Slater or Cameron Smith in our team,'' he said.

''Just getting involved more with or without the ball, and talking more [is what I want]. That's what I took out of the World Cup.

Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu with a Rhino at Melbourne Zoo.
Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu with a Rhino at Melbourne Zoo. ©

''It was good and pretty tiring at times, but I learned a lot of stuff from that. That's what I want to focus on.''

Asked how he tempers his own expectations, Vunivalu said he was viewing the upcoming season as an entirely new proposition.

''I had a pretty good year in 2017','' he said.

''My goal is trying to focus on this year. Last year was last year - but this is a whole new team.''

Vunivalu faces off against England powerhouse Ryan Hall when the Storm face Super League champions Leeds Rhinos in the World Club Challenge at AAMI Park on Friday night.

Despite being 188cm and weighing in at 103 kilograms, Vunivalu won't have things all in his favour in the battle with Hall.  He will give away 4kg to his direct opponent.

''Hall is a big bloke,'' he said.

''It's a tough task, but I'm looking forward to it. He's just bigger and wider.''

Spending an extended break in Fiji after the World Cup helped Vunivalu recharge his batteries. Now he’s keen to start the year off well.

''There's a lot of new young signings coming in, plus some older guys like Sam Kasiano,'' he said.

''It's good for the future of the Storm. The team's looking good, and everyone's excited for the season.''

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