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Kerry Cooper Vuna (born 5 July 1987) is a professional rugby footballer who plays on the wing for Newcastle Falcons in the RFU Championship. He played rugby league as a wing for the New Zealand Warriors and Newcastle Knights in the National Rugby League competition, before switching to rugby union to play Super Rugby for the Melbourne Rebels. Following a string of defensive performances to rival the best in the global game, it is rumoured Vuna will be nominated for world player of the year. This, ahead of his prospective move to Super Rugby.

Cooper Vuna
Cooper Vuna 2008.jpg
Vuna while playing for Tonga at the 2008 RLWC
Birth nameKerry Cooper Vuna
Date of birth (1987-05-07) 7 May 1987 (age 32)
Place of birthAuckland, New Zealand
Height1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Weight108 kg (17 st 0 lb)
SchoolOtahuhu College
Rugby league career
Position(s) Wing
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
New Zealand Warriors
Newcastle Knights
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
2008 Tonga 3 (12)
Rugby union career
Position(s) Wing
Current team Bath Rugby
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
Toshiba Brave Lupus
Worcester Warriors
Bath Rugby
Newcastle Falcons
Correct as of 5 July 2019
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
Correct as of 11 September 2019

Early yearsEdit

Cooper Vuna is of Tongan descent. He was born in Auckland, New Zealand and grew up in Otahuhu with his family. He has three sisters, and four brothers. One brother played for Junior Roosters under 21s.[citation needed]

Vuna played high school rugby union until he was 15, switching to rugby league after being scouted by the New Zealand Warriors.[1] His junior club was the Otahuhu Leopards.[2] And he represented the Auckland Lions in the Bartercard Cup[2] and NSWRL Premier League.

Rugby league careerEdit

Vuna signed with the New Zealand Warriors and made his first grade debut late in 2004, in Round 24 against the Parramatta Eels.[2] Vuna went on to play five games for the club over the next three years before leaving, seeking regular game time.[citation needed]

Vuna signed with the Newcastle Knights in mid-2007, seeking to break into first grade. He was picked in the Knights' squad the week he was signed, after the squad suffered several withdrawals. Vuna established himself in the Knights first grade squad, playing in over fifty matches for the club between 2007 and 2010.[citation needed]

In Round 24, 2010 Vuna scored 4 tries against the Brisbane Broncos equalling the Newcastle Knights' club record for most tries in a game.[citation needed]

Representative careerEdit

Vuna was selected in the New Zealand national rugby league team' training squad in 2007 but did not make the final squad.[citation needed]

Vuna was also named in the Kiwis' 2008 squad training for the World Cup but played in three matches for Tonga instead.[3][4][5][6] In October 2008 he was named in the final 24-man Tonga squad.[7]

In 2011 Cooper was named in the initial 50-man squad for the Tongan Rugby Union Team for the Rugby World Cup.[citation needed]

Rugby union careerEdit

In May 2010, Vuna signed a two-year contract with the Melbourne Rebels.[8][9][10][11] He played the Rebels' pre-season trials against Tonga and Fiji; against the Crusaders he ran on with former Wallabies Stirling Mortlock and Julian Huxley.[12][13] He debuted in Super Rugby for the first round of the Rebels season against the Waratahs. He ended the season playing 14 games of the Super Rugby season 2011 and scored 4 tries.

Vuna played his first game for Australia 9 June 2012, against Wales in Brisbane. The Rebels media unit reported how immensely proud Vuna felt to have been selected, and that a lot of training had gone into his preparation.[14] Vuna played 71 minutes of the Test, the first of a series of three between Wallabies and the visiting Welshmen. Vuna was selected again for the second test, in Melbourne a week later.[15]

In August 2012, Vuna dislocated his shoulder while playing for the Endeavour Hills club. A week later he underwent surgery. According to a Wallabies spokesman, Vuna could expect to face a six-month recovery period.[16] This could see him sidelined until February 2013.

In May 2013, it was announced that Vuna would leave the Rebels at the end of the season to join Japanese Top League club Toshiba Brave Lupus.[17][18][19] He joins head coach Damien Hill and fellow Rebels players James O'Connor, Gareth Delve, Ged Robinson, Nick Phipps, Nic Henderson, James King, Tim Davidson and Richard Kingi on the list of departing Rebels at the end of 2013. His last game as a Rebels player was a home game against New Zealand franchise the Highlanders, a match that also turned out to be the last Rebels match for head coach Damien Hill and players James O'Connor, Gareth Delve, Ged Robinson, Nick Phipps and Nic Henderson. In front of over 12,000 spectators, the Rebels overcame a 24-point half-time deficit to achieve a remarkable 38–37 come-from-behind victory over the Highlanders, ending Vuna's tenure as a Rebels player on a winning note, with Vuna scored two tries in the same match.[20][21] With 13 Rebels tries to his name, Vuna left the Rebels as their highest try scorer to date.


His father, John Vuna, represented Tonga in rugby union. He has a son called Lincoln Vuna


  1. ^ Kilgallon, Steve (30 May 2010). "Switcheroo Vuna goes for Wallabies over ABs". Sunday Star Times. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  2. ^ a b c "From Shining Knight to the Rebel Army" (Press release). Melbourne Rebels. 6 January 2011. Archived from the original on 3 June 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
  3. ^ "Kiwis select Sonny Bill". Sky Sports. 8 August 2008. Retrieved 8 August 2008.
  4. ^ "Testing time for Knights flyer". 4 April 2008. Retrieved 4 April 2008.[dead link]
  5. ^ "Vuna extends Knights deal Cooper coup". 8 April 2008. Retrieved 8 April 2008.[dead link]
  6. ^ "Tug-of-war over Mason". Sky Sports. 5 August 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  7. ^ "Samoa, Tonga and Fiji name squads". BBC. 8 October 2008. Retrieved 9 October 2008.
  8. ^ "Lipman, Vuna Sign" (Press release). Melbourne Rebels. 24 May 2010. Archived from the original on 3 June 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  9. ^ Toohey, Barry (23 May 2010). "Cooper Vuna runs to rugby joining Melbourne Rebels for 2010". Fox Sports NRL. News Limited. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  10. ^ Smith, Wayne (22 May 2010). "Rebels chase Knights flyer Cooper Vuna". Australian. News Limited. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  11. ^ Smith, Wayne (24 May 2010). "Vuna springs surprise on Dad". Australian. News Limited. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  12. ^ Gould, Russell (7 February 2011). "Julian Huxley looks to build fitness". Herald Sun. News Limited. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
  13. ^ Smith, Wayne (7 February 2011). "From Knights to Wallabies bolter". Australian. News. Retrieved 9 February 2011.
  14. ^ Rebels Media Unit (8 June 2012). "Tears flowed when Vuna was told of his selection" (Press release). Melbourne Rebels. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  15. ^ Wallabies Media Unit (12 June 2012). "Wallabies un-changed for second Wales Test" (Press release). Australian Rugby Union. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  16. ^ Gould, Russell (8 August 2012). "Wallaby Vuna has surgery on shoulder injury". Herald Sun. News. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  17. ^ "Melbourne Rebels winger Cooper Vuna to leave club at season's end to take up Japanese offer". Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  18. ^ "Vuna leaving Rebels for Japan". 2 July 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  19. ^ "SANZAR - Cooper Vuna to leave Melbourne Rebels at the end of the Super Rugby season". Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 July 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ [1][dead link]

External linksEdit