Rugby Union 11 months ago

Cheika excited by Koroibete's rugby debut

  • Cheika excited by Koroibete's rugby debut

    CARDIFF, WALES - NOVEMBER 03: Marika Koroibete in action during his first Wallabies training session during Qantas Australia Wallabies training ahead of their International against Wales at Sophia Gardens on November 3, 2016 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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-man Spring 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.

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"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 in Paris on Monday.

"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," Cheika said.

"Him and Taqele on either wing should be an interesting prospect."

The squad also features three players, in Andrew Kellaway, Izaia Perese and Jack Dempsey, brought on the Spring Tour in a developmental role.

The Wallabies most high-profile NRL convert, star fullback Israel Folau, has previously expressed the importance of giving gametime 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."

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