“There’s no plan to use Suli in the two Argentina games unless we have got a spate of injuries,” Rennie said. “The key for him is to earn the right to play and [we are] keen to reward the guys who have been working for the last three months.”
Rennie has forecast squad changes on Sunday, with a number of players potentially being released given the larger group assembled at present. It will be interesting to see whether a winger drops out to accommodate Vunivalu.
The two-time NRL premiership winner had his first session on Thursday and Rennie was very clear about what the next few weeks would entail and why he’d be an asset in rugby.
“He got a reasonable sweat on,” Rennie said. “A lot of his skills from league for him, in his position, are really transferable. He’s great from a high ball point of view, he’s got a good kicking game and very quick. He trained pretty well. He’s trying to get his head around the positional side of the game, which is a little bit different.
“We don’t know an enormous amount about him from a character point of view. We’ve spoken to [Storm general manager of football] Frank Ponissi about him last week. He raved about his character and on-field ability.
“[It’s] a good chance for us to bring him in, get to know him a bit better … and hopefully when he gets back to Super Rugby we have an understanding around the two or three key areas that he can put a bit of time into, which is going to help his transition.”
The Wallabies, who are still on a high after their 24-22 victory over New Zealand in Brisbane on Saturday night, will have the weekend off and get their first look at Argentina when they do battle with the All Blacks at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday.
Playmaker James O’Connor is no certainty to return next week as he continues to recover from a knee injury.
Rennie said O’Connor was a “wait and see” prospect and added that Hodge’s outstanding showing at No.10 in Brisbane had given he and those who pick the team food for thought.
“Excited that our game has got a chance to be in every living room from a free-to-air perspective and hopefully that will help grow our game,” Rennie said. “When you’re talking about broadcast deals, there is a fair bit of money involved which allows you to plan and strategise for the next few years and pour money into all levels of the game. We’re really excited about that.”
Tom Decent is a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald