Suliasi Vunivalu is set to make his Super Rugby debut on Friday night despite being due in court in April to face charges of common assault.
The former Melbourne Storm star will today be named on the Queensland Reds bench for the round two clash with the Melbourne Rebels after being stood down for the season-opening win over the NSW Waratahs.
Police allege that Vunivalu struck a security guard in the face while intoxicated in Brisbane on January 30.
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“As a result of investigations, a 25-year-old man was charged with common assault in a public place while adversely affected by an intoxicating substance,” a Queensland Police spokesperson told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“The wording we have in front of us is that he allegedly struck the victim beside his eye.”
But despite taking a hard line with previous off field incidents, Reds coach Brad Thorn will allow Vunivalu to take the field before appearing in court.
“It’s not ideal to have that situation at the start of the season,” Thorn said after the Reds stood the flying winger down for one game last week.
“This week Suli won’t be there… it’s not much fun making those decisions.
“It’s where things are at. We felt as a club that was the right decision.
“I felt like it’s been handled really professionally and it’s just life, things happen.
“There’s a group of guys there that really care about each other and this club doing well and who they represent, and nothing’s really changed there.”
Vunivalu replaces Ilaisa Droasese on the Reds bench, despite the rookie scoring a try on debut last weekend.
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Wallabies star Taniela Tupou has been promoted to the starting lineup, replacing Feao Fotuaika at tighthead prop.
Young backrower Sam Wallis is also in line to make his Reds debut from the bench.
The team will be officially named later today.
REDS (15-1): Jock Campbell, Jordan Petaia, Hunter Paisami, Hamish Stewart, Filipo Daugunu, James O’Connor (c), Tate McDermott, Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight, Angus Scott-Young, Seru Eru, Angus Blyth, Taniela Tupou, Alex Mafi, Dane Zander
Reserves: Josh Nasser, Harry Hoopert, Feao Fotuaika, Ryan Smith, Sam Wallis, Moses Sorovi, Bryce Hegarty, Suliasi Vunivalu
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