Suliasi Vunivalu has praised fellow cross-coder and Reds coach Brad Thorn as he adjusts to life in Wallabies camp.
Vunivalu is one of six uncapped players in the Wallabies squad ahead of the three-Test series against England starting on July 2.
Whilst this is his third camp with the national side, this is the first the 26-year-old joins fully fit, vying for a maiden call-up.
He was rushed into camp immeadiately after the 2020 NRL Grand Final before hamstring injuries kept him watching from the sidelines in 2021.
The injuries have played a major part in his rugby union journey so far, shattering his confidence after going through a second hamstring surgery.
However, he praised Thorn, who went through a similar switch with the All Blacks in 2001, who helped ease back and eventually build some consistent game time at the back end of the Super Rugby Pacific season.
“He’s been really helpful since I got to the Reds. He knows best how the game is and he’s helped me so much and I’m looking forward to spending another year with him,” he said on Thorn.
“He’s been (a similar) position. He knew the first couple of games would be rusty and that I was a bit nervous knowing I had my second surgery.
“He was always supportive and always looking after me.”
Having grown up with the sport, Vunivalu admits the 'contestable' nature of union was a key factor in his return, admitting he had always had the desire the switch back at this stage of his life.
“Everything is contestable and you have licence to kick, whereas you can’t kick when you catch it at the back and you have to run straight into a wall of defence,” he notes.
“You can roam around, you don’t have to stay on your wing and work. I’m been working on my kicking game since last year with the likes of O’Connor and the boys. I don’t really kick on my left which is my good side
“...I didn’t know I was ending up in Rugby League leaving school. When I was (at the Storm), I was with Nelson (Asofa-Solomona, Storm forward) and we talked about spending a couple of years in rugby league and then head back to union when we were 24-25 and it happened for me.”
Vunivalu signed a one-year extension with the Reds and Australian Rugby on Tuesday, with the eyes firmly focused on the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
When asked about staying beyond that time, the Reds flyer was letting his Rugby do the talking knowing he has plenty to offer and prove.
“We’ll see. I have this year to worry about, I haven’t played any Tests for Wallabies so I’ll back myself to make that goal. I want to stay in Australia and my performance will speak for itself,” he added.