Wednesday’s Rugby News looks at Koroibete’s potential exit, England’s impending trip to Australia, the Force’s new signing and the main reason for the Waratahs demise
Million dollar Marika
Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete looks set to leave the Rebels at the end of the year, with a deal overseas looming.
Koroibete’s departure from Australian rugby has been speculated for a while, with the players even going as far as naming their group chat Justice4Marika on account of his ‘poor’ pay packet.
The Top League are looking to change this, with the Herald reporting that he has already started preliminary discussions with clubs in Europe and Japan, with the Panasonic Wild Knights the red hot favourites.
His continual rise in the Wallabies set up could see him fetch close to $1 million per season on the open market, a figure RA simply couldn’t match for a winger.
Neither RA nor the Rebels have started discussions with Koroibete, with contract talks set to start after Super Rugby AU.
“We’d like him to continue,” Rebels chief executive Baden Stephenson told the Herald.
”Clearly he’s a player that is highly respected and a guy the Rebels and Rugby Australia would like to keep.
“Marika is in our leadership group and he’s as invested as I’ve ever seen him.”
The loss of Koroibete would obviously be a massive blow to the Wallabies, given he’s coming off winning the John Eales Medal in 2019.
However, the Wallabies have seemingly found the winger goldmine over the past 12 months, with the likes of Tom Wright, Jordan Petiaia (depending on where you play him) and Filipo Daugunu proving that they are up to international standard.
Couple this with the arrival of Vunivalu, who provides a similar skill set to Marika, along with the likes of Ramm and Ralston shows that there is decent depth waiting in the… wings.
Also up RA’s sleave is continuing their lenience with the ‘Giteau Law’, who are yet to confirm whether it will go back to the 60-cap limit.
Force’s new flash
The Western Force have continued to bolster their squad as they bring in another international player.
However, whilst they have opted for experience in the past, they have shifted their focus towards youth as they bring in England U20’s star Jordan Olowofela on a one-year loan deal.
The midfielder joins from Leicester, having been invited to a training camp with the senior England squad in 2018 following his heroics in the U20 World Championships.
“In this unique season, with limited opportunities for all players to get game time, this opportunity presents a chance for Jordan to get valuable experience in his development,” Leicester coach Steve Borthwick said in a statement.
“At just 22, Jordan can gain both rugby and life experience in a different environment and culture.
“I am excited to see the progress he makes in Super Rugby and I am confident he will represent our club in a way that will make everybody at Tigers proud.
“We are extremely grateful to the Force for presenting this opportunity to a Leicester Tigers player and the productive process in making it happen.”
The speedster was excited to test himself in Super Rugby, grateful to get the opportunity from the Force.
“I am really excited about this opportunity and looking forward to linking up with the Western force for the Super Rugby season,” he explained.
“The chance to live in Australia and test myself in a competition like Super Rugby is exciting.
“I am grateful the club got me this chance for a new and different challenge.”
Aussie Eddie is set for a return Down Under as he brings the Poms for a mid-year tour of Australia in 2022.
According to the Herald, England will return to Australia next year as part of a three-test series, hoping to replicate their feat in 2016.
Jones was arguably the architect for the decline in the Wallabies performance (very debatable), whitewashing them 3-0 just months after making the World Cup final.
Despite the poor result, the series was a smash hit for RA, with three sold-out crowds delivering a surplus in 2016.
Interestingly, this expected series is a major reason why RA is so keen to host the Lions tour of South Africa.
The reasoning behind this comes as a group of ex-players and officials start to campaign for the series to be pushed back 12 months as the situation in the UK and South Africa remains volatile.
“Playing it anywhere other than South Africa this year may well help to destroy the ethos of the Lions; the very creed of the Lions is going to another country,” former Lions player and team Manager John Spencer told the Yorkshire Post.
“It’s about spreading the gospel of rugby and all these countries absolutely adore the Lions. I’m not sure what will happen next but if they did have it here I’m not sure crowds would flock to see the Lions at home anyway.
“I would like to see the tour postponed for a year and then everyone will have exactly the same in South Africa in 2022.”
This would take precedence over any tour, leaving Australia to play a potential ‘B’ England side.
The Poms seem to share this view but for a completely different reason, with steady Eddie not wanting to lose his best players for a Lions tour that falls just 12 months out from the 2023 World Cup.
The Waratahs brain drain and poor start to the season have been put down on the ongoing COVID crisis, according to assistant coach Chris Whittaker.
After a pair of record-breaking losses, Whittaker admitted that the situation forced players to make the tough decision to leave, leaving the Waratahs with an inexperienced squad for 2021.
“I think it’s out of everyone’s control. If you look at the players that left, it was all around the COVID issue, unfortunately, everyone took a pay cut,” Whitaker told reporters on Monday.
“So, unfortunately, we couldn’t keep guys, it’s not like we didn’t want to keep them, but financially we couldn’t.
“So all that type of stuff is out of our hands, it wasn’t a decision we made, we were given this squad. And the money restrictions and that stuff, we’re doing what we can and as I said with the amount of turnover you have, it takes time to build those combinations.
“So that’s the situation we’re in and we can’t change it, now it’s about moving forward and doing the best we can.”
When their apparent disregard to the NRC was put to Whittaker by myself, he pointed to the success that they have in developing the likes of Will Harrison and Ben Donaldson.
“We’ve tried to use it. Firstly, the last few years we’ve had a lot of guys in the Wallabies setup and then we’ve had some injuries in the backend of the season,” Whitaker said.
“So if you look at that NRC a few years ago that I was involved with, we had Will Harrison who was playing colts at Randwick at the time, Ben Donaldson, Tane Edmed played…so there is a lot of guys who’ve come out of that [Sydney] NRC team.
“But I don’t think that the development of the actual players is the issue,
“I think the issue is we’re losing a lot of the senior guys because of the COVID thing and we’re throwing these young guys, not just into game time, but leadership roles very early. But as I said give them time and they’ll blossom for sure.”