The St.George Queensland Reds have added firepower to their backline ahead of the upcoming Vodafone Super Rugby season after signing Australian Test star Sefa Naivalu.
The Fijian flyer, who boasts 10 Wallabies caps and 46 games of Super Rugby experience will be at Ballymore through 2019 after he was released by the Melbourne Rebels.
Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) interim CEO David Hanham said: “We’re delighted to have Sefa at Ballymore. He’s a professional who brings international experience and will be a welcome addition to our squad.”
Naivalu said he was looking forward to the opportunity at the Reds and moving to Brisbane knowing there is a strong Fijian community present.
“I’m very excited to go up there and play with a bunch of Rugby players who have the potential of getting the job done,” said Naivalu.
“Brad Thorn is a well known Rugby player and I’m looking forward to working with him and learning more off him.
“I just need to keep working hard and taking opportunities and execute how the coaches want me to execute and hopefully I get selected for the World Cup next year.”
Reds head coach Brad Thorn said: “Sefa’s a good guy, he brings maturity and experience at the highest level. We look forward to seeing him further his Rugby career at Queensland.”
Naivalu returned to the Wallabies fold in October this year against the All Blacks in Yokahama, where he continued his incredible strike rate in the green and gold – scoring his fifth try in eight Tests.
He again started on the wing in Cardiff for Australia’s opening Spring Tour clash with Wales, before coming off the bench against England at Twickenham last month.
In addition to his prolific try-scoring skills with the Wallabies, the 26 year-old crossed for 16 tries and a total of 80 Super Rugby points during his four seasons at the Rebels.
Naivalu created history while in Melbourne after he became the first player from Victoria’s Premier Club Rugby competition to be signed by the Rebels by then head coach Tony McGahan, who is now the Reds Academy head coach at Ballymore.
The QRU meanwhile has granted fellow outside back Izaia Perese a release from his contract at the Reds to pursue opportunities in another sport.
“We have thought long and hard about this, as releasing players from their contractual commitments isn’t something we take lightly,” said Hanham.
“Izaia was released on the basis of us identifying a quality replacement and this has certainly been achieved. We wish Izaia all the best for his future.”
Back-to-back knee injuries limited Perese’s impact in 2018 to just five games for the Reds.
A product of the Queensland pathway, Perese made his Super Rugby debut in 2017 and went on to play 17 matches and score four tries for the Reds.
Position: Outside back
Place of birth: Levuka, Fiji
Senior Club: Box Hill Broncos (VIC)
School: Nasinu Secondary School, Nadi
Representative Honours: Melbourne Rising NRC (2014-2018), Melbourne Rebels (2015-2018), Australian Wallabies (2016-)
Super Rugby Debut: 2015 v Crusaders, Christchurch
Super Rugby Caps: 46
Super Rugby Points: 80 (16T)
Test Debut: 2016 v South Africa, Pretoria
Test Caps: 10
Test Points: 25 (5T)