Marika Koroibete will make his professional rugby debut this week and Wallabies coach Michael Cheika already likes what he’s seen from the ex NRL flyer.
Koroibete is in Bordeaux ahead of Thursday’s Wallaby XV match against a French Barbarians outfit and Cheika said he had grown in confidence in his weeks on tour with the squad.
“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,” he told the Australian Rugby Union’s official website.
“That’s pretty much gone in line with his training. A bit unsure at first, trying to pick his running lines, picking up the team’s shape. Second week, 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. I think we’re looking forward to seeing him play. Him and Taqele on either wing should be an interesting prospect.”
Cheika said a baptism of fire against the French would be the quickest way for the 25-year-old to get himself up to speed in Rugby after six years in Rugby League.
“He’s straight in there,” added Cheika.
“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 team-mates as well. He’s getting to know a whole lot of new guys. It will be good experience for him.”
Wallaby XV backs coach Morgan Turinui, who will also be Koroibete’s attack coach at the Rebels in 2017, had his first glimpse of the winger on Monday and said he was impressed.
“He’s been with the Wallabies for a few weeks and there are normally some teething problems but one – he’s a pro, he’s been in a really professional setup, so probably need to thank Craig Bellamy and the Storm set-up for the way they have developed him as a player and he just seamlessly seems part of the squad,” he said.
“I think a few people obviously thought it was a strange selection but I think the development that he’s been able to get and just get some rugby nous and training alongside the best players in Australia’s probably a great way to start off. Then it’ll be up to the Rebels to continue to enhance that development throughout Super Rugby and the pre-season leading into it.”
“He just looks like an out and out footballer and just an exciting player, especially with the ball in his hands and one big thing for the Rebels and Australian Rugby is to get guys like him and Sefa Naivalu and [Henry] Speight, as we saw last night, touches on the ball and they can do great things for us.”