Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels has lauded Marika Koroibete as “by quite some way” the best winger in Australia.
Koroibete was the stand-out in his team’s 20-15 Super Rugby loss to the NSW Waratahs at AAMI Park on Friday night in what was a mostly frustrating, error-riddled performance by the Rebels.
Hungry for action, Koroibete wound up like a giant pinball as he charged down-field amongst his 131 run metres, with two line-breaks and two tackle busts boosting his hopes of World Cup selection.
He was unlucky not to score when he stopped just short of the line by a no-arms tackle from Waratah Curtis Rona, who was penalised but not yellow-carded for the illegal action.
And he also set up a second-half try for Will Genia when he picked the ball up from the back of the ruck and off-loaded to his halfback.
“He’s the quiet assassin,” Wessels said of the former NRL star, who has 18 Wallabies caps.
“I think his try-scoring, his ball carrying – all the obvious stuff everybody knows how good he is at those things – but we are really pleased about his efforts off the ball, his work rate off the ball, his work in contact.
“He’s really developing into a world class winger for me – by quite some way he’s the premier winger in Australia at the moment.”
There were a few other Wallabies auditions at AAMI Park, with little splitting five-eighths Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley.
Rebels skipper Dane Haylett-Petty went up against Kurtley Beale for the vacant Test fullback jersey, with Israel Folau now out of the picture.
Beale decidedly got the points, with his Waratahs captain, and Test skipper Michael Hooper praising his running – with six tackle busts – and particularly his kicking game.
“He likes the space and he also has a quality boot – I’d forgotten how good it was and the time he seems to have there,” Hooper said.
“Apart from one or two he put short the guy’s putting us out 45 metres back up with those sorts of exits.
“For a forward, not having to go straight into a a driving maul defence is nice.”
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