Marika Koroibete will play no part in the Wallabies’ spring tour after the superstar winger opted to stay in Australia for family reasons.
Koroibete did not play in the final test of The Rugby Championship, against Argentina, after being released to spend additional time with his family before the Wallabies’ tour of Japan and the UK.
But speaking to reporters on Sunday from Japan, Wallabies coach Dave Rennie revealed the superstar winger had played his last match for Australia – at least for the forseeable future.
“We’ve been discussing it for a while,” Rennie said. “We let him go home a week early during The Rugby Championship. Covid has thrown a lot of curve balls at all of us. Obviously, Marika has been away from home for a long time.
“[Koroibete’s wife] Emma’s pretty isolated down there. They’ve had a newborn baby, and a couple of other young boys. Based on those situations, Marika has chosen not to tour.”
Koroibete had been one of just a handful of world-class players at Rennie’s disposal, and he will be sorely missed in the final four tests of the season.
Whether he plays for the Wallabies again remains to be seen. The 29-year-old will begin a lucrative, multi-year deal with the Panasonic Wild Knights next season and does not qualify for Giteau Law selection, given he has only played 42 Tests.
Rennie could use one of his exemptions to pick the superstar winger, though Rennie is yet to officially indicate whether they will do so.
The Wallabies hope Suliasi Vunivalu can eventually fill the hole left by Koroibete, but hamstring injuries have plagued the first year of the former Melbourne Storm star’s career in the 15-man game.
For now, Rennie will likely choose between Jordan Petaia and Tom Wright to step into Koroibete’s place.
“As always, it’s an opportunity, isn’t it? Marika didn’t play the last game. Jordy got the start. It gave Tom Wright a sniff, and he played really well. It’s a position we have a bit of depth in,” Rennie said.
“Marika is an unbelievable player with a massive work ethic. And physicality. Big shoes to fill, but we have good depth there.”
Koroibete will be one of the few headline stars absent from the team Rennie will pick for Saturday’s clash with the Brave Blossoms.
With a fortnight between the Japan test and the clash with Scotland at Murrayfield, Rennie is keen to build on the momentum gained through four consecutive wins.
“We’ll put in the best side available,” he said. “They are a genuine threat, and we are treating it as that. They’re a different beast to what we’re going to face in Europe, with regards to how they’re going to play, but that’s great from our perspective.
“They play a very high-speed, high-skill type of game. That’s no surprise with [coach] Jamie [Joseph] and Tony [Brown] in the mix.
“So, yeah, we’re well aware of that, and we will have to do a good job around the quality of our defence, slowing their ball down to get a wall in front of them. We’ve got a plan around how we need to play against these guys.”..