Cheika ex­cited by Koroi­bete’s rugby de­but

Fiji Sun - - Sport - Feed­back: leonec@fi­jisun.com.fj

Michael Cheika says NRL con­vert Marika Koroi­bete has found his voice within the Wal­la­bies squad, with the coach ex­cited for the try-scor­ing speed­ster’s rugby union de­but. Koroi­bete - a sur­prise in­clu­sion in Cheika’s 32-men tour squad so soon af­ter switch­ing from the Mel­bourne Storm- will play his first game of pro­fes­sional rugby union as part of a non-capped Wal­laby XV on Thurs­day in Bor­deaux against a French Bar­bar­ians out­fit.

He ad­mits it has been tricky get­ting up to speed in his new sport so quickly, but Cheika said the im­prove­ment in his play and un­der­stand­ing of the game across the open­ing three weeks of the Spring Tour has been ad­mirable.

“It’s funny. He didn’t say a word the first week - a few words the sec­ond week and a few more words the third week,” Cheika said. “That’s pretty much gone in line with his train­ing. (Koroi­bete was) a bit un­sure at first, try­ing to pick his run­ning lines, pick­ing up the team’s shape. Sec­ond week, he was start­ing to get a few more in­side lines off the 10 or get­ting out off the 9, and then the third week start­ing to feel rel­a­tively com­fort­able.”

The 24-year-old speed­ster, who bagged 46 tries in 74 NRL games with Mel­bourne and Wests Tigers, is ex­pected to start on one wing with good friend- and fel­low rugby league con­vert - Taqele Nai­yar­a­voro on the other. “We’re look­ing for­ward to see­ing (Koroi­bete) play. Him and Taqele on ei­ther wing should be an in­ter­est­ing prospect.” The Wal­la­bies most high-pro­file NRL con­vert, star full­back Israel Fo­lau, has pre­vi­ously ex­pressed the im­por­tance of giv­ing game time to Koroi­bete to fast-track his learn­ing of the 15-man game.

“100 per cent. He’s straight in there,” Cheika agreed. “Throw him into the fire and I’m sure he’ll deal with it. But I feel like the three weeks, he’s just felt more com­fort­able and more com­fort­able with his team­mates as well. He’s get­ting to know a whole lot of new guys. It will be good ex­pe­ri­ence for him.” -AAP

Throw him into the fire and I’m sure he’ll deal with it. But I feel like the three weeks, he’s just felt more com­fort­able and more com­fort­able with his team­mates as well.

Michael Cheika Wal­la­bies coach

Photo: Zim­bio

Marika Koroi­bete.

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