Star Melbourne winger Suliasi Vunivalu says he will seek reassurance about his contract ahead of his code switch to financially-stricken rugby union and try to remain with the Storm if it falls through.
Vunivalu is set to depart Melbourne at the end of the NRL season after signing a deal with Queensland Reds and Rugby Australia late last year he described as “too good to refuse”.
But since then Rugby Australia has fallen into a financial black hole, with a number of players looking to shift overseas as they seek some job security.
Reds trio Izack Rodda, Harry Hockings and Isaac Lucas sought early releases from their deals last month while Australia’s players are on an average 60 per cent pay cut across the board until September 30.
Vunivalu said he’d had the blinkers on resuming playing with the Storm following the NRL competition shutdown and hadn’t kept on top of rugby’s financial crisis.
“Some of the boys have been giving me a heads up on what’s been going but I haven’t really had a chat with my manager,” Vunivalu told AAP.
“But I will be talking to him this weekend.”
Vunivalu said if his two-year contract was guaranteed he would happily return to the game he played as a junior both in Fiji and New Zealand before joining Melbourne in 2016.
Ex-Storm winger Marika Koroibete has enjoyed huge success since switching to rugby with Melbourne Rebels and the Wallabies, winning the John Eales Medal last year as the best Australian player.
“If my contract is still there then I’m happy to go on with it but if not then we’ll see where we go from there,” the 24-year-old said.
The imposing flyer, who scored a try in the Storm’s 22-8 win over South Sydney on Friday night to bring his NRL career total to 75, said remaining with Melbourne would be his first choice if the rugby deal was off.
That’s welcome news for the Storm who are also set to lose their other representative winger Josh Addo-Carr, who wants to return to his home in Sydney at the end of the season.
“My kids and family are all here in Melbourne so this is where I want to stay,” Vunivalu said.
“I love the city and especially the club so if they still want me here then I’d want to stay.”