Vaivai's push to join Inglis
THE South Sydney Rabbitohs are set to unleash Goodna Eagles junior and former Kruger State School student Junior Vaivai as the centre partner to Greg Inglis.
But curious Ipswich rugby league fans may yet see the muscular back on show before the NRL season kicks off.
Vaivai is surprisingly one of 64 players named on the preliminary list for the NRL All Stars versus Indigenous All Stars game at the Gold Coast's Skilled Park on February 16.
This is despite the exciting finisher playing just three NRL matches at age 20.
The list is compiled via popular vote.
But the news only gets better for the Ipswich product.
With NRL regular centre Beau Champion pushed out of the Rabbitohs to the Melbourne Storm to make way for Inglis, there is a first grade centre spot available for 2011.
Souths coach John Lang reportedly said the position will go to either Vaivai or his Toyota Cup centres partner Dylan Farrell.
Vaivai made the most line breaks in the Toyota Cup competition last year and scored on his NRL debut against the Penrith Panthers in 2009.
Lang tipped his hand before Christmas when he pointed to Vaivai as a player he expected to make giant strides in 2011.
“I think Junior Vaivai will certainly come into contention for first grade,” Lang said.
The 180cm Auckland-born back has been likened to a raw mixture of NRL superstars Inglis and Israel Folau and a touch of Michael Jennings as well.
Vaivai moved down to the Rabbitohs in 2008 after running riot in the Goodna juniors.
Ipswich Junior Rugby League chairman Brendan Bowers said Vaivai always had big wraps on him.
However, Bowers said the heavily-tattooed centre was just as impressive off the field.
Earlier this year, Bowers took a group of the region's talented under-13 league players to Sydney for an NRL experience and asked Vaivai to show the kids around.
“He was fantastic,” Bowers said.
“I called him up and asked if he could speak to the kids and he jumped at it.
“He gave them a tour around ANZ Stadium and spoke to them about the demands of a professional footballer.”