The Wallabies debutant with 'scary' potential

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Marika Koroibete has earned a Wallabies debut just 10 months since returning to rugby, but fellow Test winger Henry Speight says his potential is yet to be reached.

Koroibete finished his debut Super Rugby season with six tries from 13 games, 859 run metres and 26 defenders beaten, in a year that looms as simply a starting point.

Speight has watched the former Melbourne Storm winger grow firsthand, since joining the squad as a development player in November last year, and has been blown away by his teammate.

“It's been crazy how much learning he's taken from the environment, from Spring Tour and being able to implement that into his game for Super Rugby,” he said.

“He keeps saying he's not the finished product, but man, he's been training hard.

“The S&C (strength and conditioning coaches) reckons he's in the best shape he's been in all year, and he's the fastest in the squad at the moment.

“It's been exciting leading into this weekend, he’ll have jet shoes on the edge there, so he'll be good."

Speight knows Koroibete's danger all too well, having had to read up on him as a Super Rugby opponent this season.

“You see the amount of work he gets through, metres gained, tackle breaks, carrying and saving tries,” he said. 

“He's not just lethal in attack, he does a good job in defence.

“It's a scary thought but there's a lot of potential there and I think Cheik and the whole squad acknowledges that and they are really keen to keep working alongside them.”

Koroibete kept his emotions in check when being told of his selection, but told reporters on Thursday that he was definitely excited about the chance to play.

“Just kept it inside of me, didn't want to show it around because the boys were looking,” he said.

“When I went to my room, I just fist pumped and called my wife straight away and told her how happy I am.”

Cheika has a simple instruction for Koroibete against the Pumas on Saturday night.

“I want him to get the ball and take someone on, that's where he's so good, is in those areas,” he said.

“This is a guy who's obviously got a lot of natural talent and he's also played in big game environments in the other code.

“I think that's been the big thing for us while we've waited and waited a little bit is to make sure he's really clear with his role in the team because we play with a different system to what he would've experienced in Melbourne.

“We're building him for success, not just to get him in there and have a run, we want him to get in there and be successful when he has a run.”

Koroibete has leant on Speight and the rest of the Fijians in the squad, of which there are now four in the matchday squad, as he’s worked his way through, with the group sometimes slipping into speaking Fijian to help his progress.

“It's crucial, sometimes we converse a lot in Fijian and get the message across and he understands that a bit better coming from us,” he said.

“Tevita (Kuridrani) and Samu (Kerevi) are setting the platform for the boys in the side with their leadership and it helps everyone but the four of us especially.”

The Wallabies take on Argentina in Canberra on Saturday night, kicking off at 8pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Network Ten, Win and via RADIO.