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'Always been a dream': Turuva puts hand up for Blues selection

Fiji Bati star Sunia Turuva has put his hand up for NSW selection and Panthers teammates have urged new Blues coach Michael Maguire to consider him for the upcoming State of Origin series.

Turuva, 21, is the NRL’s leading try scorer so far this season, along with Brisbane fullback Reece Walsh, and is vying for a place in the NSW side after scoring nine tries in eight games on the left wing for Penrith.

While he has played six Tests for Fiji, Turuva was born and raised in Sydney and the 2022 NRL rookie of the year played his junior rugby league for Berala Bears before progressing through the Panthers pathways system.

Sunia Turuva doing what he does best

“Everyone in the NRL grows up wanting to play Origin and represent their state,” Turuva said. “I was born here so I am eligible, and it has always been a dream [to represent NSW].

“Playing for Fiji, that is different. That is for my family. To represent NSW would be a whole different ball game in itself.

“A lot of people get behind State of Origin, there is so much support and pretty much the whole of Australia has eyes on that game.”

Turuva claims rookie of the year in 2023

Penrith team-mate Brian To’o is almost certain to be one Blues winger, with Josh Addo-Carr, Zac Lomax and Joseph Aukuso Suaali'I the players many expect to be in contention for the other wing spot.

However, Panthers team-mates believe Maguire should consider Turuva, who has proven safe under the high ball and averages 146.1 running metres per game this season.  

“Tito is allowed to play Origin – he played all of his junior footy here and he was born here - so why not pick him,” Penrith playmaker Jarome Luai said.

“I try not to go too much into Origin selections because I just think the jersey will pick the man, but he would do a good job in that arena.”

Sunia Turuva celebrates with Bati team-mates during the 2023 Pacific Championships in PNG.
Sunia Turuva celebrates with Bati team-mates during the 2023 Pacific Championships in PNG. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

After recently signing with Wests Tigers, where he will play alongside Luai from next season, Turuva said his main aim for 2024 was helping the Panthers to a fourth consecutive premiership - and his second after playing in last year’s grand final defeat of Brisbane.

“I have been focusing on Penrith and just wanting to get my footy right here,” he said. "I am trying to string a few games together, that’s my goal.”

Turuva made his NRL debut in 2022 and represented Fiji at the World Cup in England before cementing his place in the Penrith side after Taylan May ruptured his ACL in the World Cup Challenge at the start of last season.

Try saver from Turuva

With star halfback Nathan Cleary (hamstring) set to be sidelined for eight weeks with a hamstring injury and his back-up Brad Schneider (knee) also injured, Turuva tipped rookie Jack Cole to step up in Saturday's match against the Warriors.

“It is never good losing one of your team-mates, especially Clez. He has been really unlucky this year,” Turuva said.

“But Coley is the man, we saw that through pre-season. He is really reliable, loves defending and he can run the ball, so we are backing him 100 per cent.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.