Vunivalu’s Toorak family prepare for Sunday’s grand final

The uncles of Melbourne Storm player Suliasi Vunivalu (L-R) Oliver Garnett, Levani Vaganalau and Serupepeli Seruvatu showing their support in Toorak, Suva yesterday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

“GOOD education and hard work has got him where he is today.”

Those were the sentiments of Suliasi Vunivalu’s cousin Levani Vaganalau while relishing on the Melbourne Storm stars achievements.

Vaganalau is one of the hundreds of residents of the Bagasau Settlement in Toorak, Suva, who are eagerly awaiting the NRL Grand finale against Sydney Roosters on Sunday.

These residents will be cheering on for their beloved son, cousin, uncle and friend Vunivalu.

Vaganalau said just like when every time Vunivalu played, a crowd would gather at the family house.

“We had a big crowd during the semi-finals last week. More than 50 people gathered outside the house. We expect a bigger crowd this week,” he said.

“Education is the key to success. Suli (Vunivalu) was a born athlete and education helped him achieve where he is today. He will come to Fiji after the finals and we are confident he will return glorious,” said Vaganalau.

His uncle Oilver Garnett who also resides at Bagasau said Vunivalu had been an inspiration to the boys in the community to get a good education and work hard.

“He attended Nehru Primary School and then later went to Lelean Memorial School. We knew since his childhood that he was going to do something big in his life.”

“Interestingly, his interest was in rugby union and it was a surprise for us that he switched to rugby league. We have no regrets as he is the pride of our community,” Garnett said.

Vunivalu’s parents are in USA and will watch their son play in the final from there.

The Storms Dairy Shop in the settlement has been named after Vunivalu’s Melbourne Storm team.

The 22-year-old is the first Fijian to take part in three consecutive NRL Grand finals.

He was the competition’s top try scorer in the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

The final kicks off at 9.20pm on Sunday.

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