Crossing codes between rugby league and rugby union is more common than you might think. Former Melbourne Storm wing Marika Korobiete has made the transition between the two sports in recent years and, instead of playing in a potential second NRL Grand Final, he’s heading to Japan for the Rugby World Cup finals with the Wallabies.
Australia national rugby union head coach Michael Cheika named the former Fiji rugby league international in his 31-man squad for the tournament. Korobiete is among the Wallabies’ wing options alongside veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper, current Super Rugby teammates Dane Haylett-Petty andÃ‚Â Reece Hodge, and uncapped teenager Jordan Petaia.
Preparations for the Rugby World Cup were rocked earlier this year by the controversy surrounding fullback Israel Folau. Following disciplinary proceedings, he won’t play for Australia again.
Korobiete started his senior rugby league career in the NRL with Wests Tigers in 2012. Although the New South Wales outfit struggled, his fine record of 12 tries in 16 games caught Storm’s attention in 2014.
A prolific two and a half seasonsÃ‚Â in Melbourne where he crossed 34 times in 58 NRL games followed. Cheika already had his eye on Korobiete as he called him up to the Wallabies squad for the end-of-year rugby union tour of Europe.
Although he hadn’t played any rugby union, he had turned out in a losing effort in the 2016 NRL Grand Final for Storm who were just edgedÃ‚Â 12-14 byÃ‚Â the Sharks. Melbourne are looking to reach the championship game for a four consecutiveÃ‚Â year and are standout 9/4 with bet365Ã‚Â in theÃ‚Â outright NRL betting to regain the title after winning it in 2017 but going down to Sydney RoostersÃ‚Â last year.
Storm have clearly maintained their position as a top rugby league side in Australia following Korobiete crossing codes. He’s remained in Melbourne with Super Rugby franchise,Ã‚Â the Rebels.
Over the last three years, Korobiete has been a regular union international with 24 Wallabies caps and nine tries going into the Rugby World Cup. His steady form for Melbourne Rebels and easy transition across codes is the reason for that. It’s not always as smooth as this. England tried fast-trackingÃ‚Â union convert Sam BurgessÃ‚Â into their Rugby World Cup squad when hosting the tournament four years ago. He played at centre despite spending his league career as a prop and occasional lock.
The experiment failed and Burgess was made a scapegoatÃ‚Â for a humiliatingÃ‚Â early exit on home soil. He soon switched back to rugby league and rejoined South Sydney RabbitohsÃ‚Â where he continues to light up the NRL.
Cheika has no such worries with Korobiete, though. His solid performances in Super Rugby and the Wallabies mean there’s no chance of him crossing codes again any time soon. Australia are in Rugby World Cup Pool D at the tournament finals where Korobiete comes up against the nation he represented as a league player, Fiji. Wales make for the toughest game on paper,Ã‚Â with Uruguay and Georgia completing the group.