FI­JIAN FLYER:

Koroi­bete: Cheika Didn’t Prom­ise Any­thing

Fiji Sun - - Weather / Tv, Movie Guide - Feed­back: os­eab@fi­jisun.com.fj

Marika Koroi­bete says he wasn’t promised a Wal­la­bies spot by Michael Cheika when re­cruited from the NRL but now he’s got one, the fly­ing Fi­jian doesn’t ex­pect to play on the Spring Tour. Koroi­bete flew out of Sydney with the Wal­la­bies last Fri­day on their five-Test tour of Europe, less than a month af­ter he fin­ished up for the Melbourne Storm in the NRL grand fi­nal.

The se­lec­tion of the 24-year-old in the Wal­la­bies’ 32-man squad has been con­tentious, with crit­ics say­ing Koroi­bete should have earned a spot in Su­per Rugby first. Some sus­pect Koroi­bete was promised a tour spot when ne­go­ti­at­ing his switch back to rugby and Koroi­bete in­di­cated as much last month when he said Cheika told him he’d be go­ing on the Spring Tour prior to sign­ing with the Rebels. But talk­ing at Sydney Air­port be­fore leav­ing with the Wal­la­bies squad, Koroi­bete said Cheika “didn’t prom­ise me any­thing.” “He asked me if I wanted to come to rugby union,” Koroi­bete said. “There was noth­ing about the Australian side. It was about com­ing to Su­per Rugby and if I wanted to change, and it was my dream to play Su­per Rugby, so I thought: ‘why not?’

“As a lit­tle boy growing up in Fiji, I al­ways wanted to play Su­per Rugby.”

Cheika re­jected the idea of giv­ing Koroi­bete a Wal­la­bies de­but if he hadn’t earned it, and in­di­cated the winger was on the tour more to re­learn rugby and get up to speed with the Wal­la­bies’ sys­tems and his new team­mates. Koroi­bete has the same view, say­ing he doesn’t ex­pect to get on the field. “I am not ex­pect­ing a game,” he said.

“I am ex­pect­ing to just train as hard as I can, and try to im­press the coach­ing staff and see how I go from there.

“It’s re­ally hard, to come from the NRL straight to the Wal­la­bies. I haven’t played a game since high school. This will be a big chal­lenge for me. This tour is all about just try­ing to learn as much as I can. I have been watch­ing Su­per Rugby since I was young. It has changed a lot now. I still watch­ing to­day. I know a lit­tle bit about it.”

Koroi­bete is highly likely to get at least one game on tour — a mid­week clash for Aus­tralia A against the French Bar­bar­ians. And know­ing Cheika, it is not un­fea­si­ble that Koroi­bete could sneak onto the end of a bench for a Test at some point.

The Wal­la­bies’ try-scor­ing strike rate has nose­dived mas­sively this year, par­tic­u­larly out wide. Koroi­bete’s re­cruit­ment was tar­geted given a per­ceived lack of wingers with pure speed and fin­ish­ing class. Wal­la­bies back coach Stephen Larkham said it was clear Koroi­bete could bring some at­tack­ing xfac­tor to Australian rugby.

“Def­i­nitely, and that’s the rea­son why Cheik worked so hard to get him back to rugby,” he said. “He’s ob­vi­ously very tal­ented with ball in hand but he is a very tough player as well. I think that is what we will see.

“We have a cou­ple of good wingers in the squad with him; a cou­ple of good Fi­jians, Sef (Naivalu) and Henry (Speight), out on the wing. So it is go­ing to be good com­pe­ti­tion out in those wide chan­nels. They’re all qual­ity play­ers and they’ll all be com­pet­ing for those spots.”

Larkham said Koroi­bete’s first chal­lenge would be fit­ting into the Wal­la­bies squad and their on-field struc­tures. A strong Fi­jian sub­cul­ture in the Wal­la­bies will be a big help for both ad­just­ments, with for­mer school mate Navailu, and Speight and Te­vita Kuridrani, also on hand. “He cer­tainly has that back­ground in rugby union,” Larkham said. “There’s not much dif­fer­ent when you are play­ing on the wing in rugby league to rugby union. There will be a few more pat­terns and slight changes from set-piece that he will have to get his head around.

“But fit­ting in with the guys first, and just get­ting op­por­tu­nity is all he needs re­ally.”

For­mer NRL star Marika Koroi­bete be­ing in­ter­viewed at Sydney air­port be­fore leav­ing for the Wal­la­bies Spring Tour.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Fiji

© PressReader. All rights reserved.