Fiji Bati fullback Sunia Turuva will start for defending champions Penrith Panthers in their pre-season challenge match against the Parramatta Eels on Saturday.
Turuva will replace Taylan May, who was suspended for the opening two rounds of the 2023 season by the NRL last year.
This is a good chance for Turuva to cement a position in Head Coach Ivan Cleary’s top 17 for the remainder of the season.
The Western Sydney product earned three NRL caps last year, including a try in Round 25 and is poised to add to that tally this year.
After starring for Fiji in the Pacific Test against PNG last year, the 20-year-old has all the skills to be Penrith’s next-best thing in the club’s backline, particularly with the departures of Christian Crichton, Rob Jennings and Charlie Staines in the off-season.
The Panthers will play Eels at 6 pm at BlueBet Stadium on Saturday.
Penrith Panthers: Isaiah Iongi, Jesse McLean, Sunia Turuva, Tom Jenkins, Daeon Amituanai, Kurt Falls, Jack Cogger, Lindsay Smith, Luke Sommerton, Liam Henry, Jaeman Salmon, Zac Hosking, Matt Eisenhuth ©
Reserves: Connor Mason, Valu Lisati, Mavrik Geyer, Harry Hassett, John Faiumu, Hanna El-Nchar, Sunita Lotoaniu, Liam Ison, Jake Tago, Logan Dickson, Ryley Smith, Trent Toelau, Cody Lawson, Luke Philp, Atonio Pelesasa