Koroibete carries silent threat in Wales

Marika Koroibete has emerged as one of the Wallabies’ key attacking threats.
Marika Koroibete has emerged as one of the Wallabies’ key attacking threats.

SHOULD the Welsh be fixated on the giant Wallabies centres playing "Monster Ball" against them, they will have taken their eyes off the sting that is surely coming from silent wing weapon Marika Koroibete in Cardiff.

Of all the 11 backs given chances by coach Michael Cheika in his 18-month transformation of the Wallabies, no one has added more exciting X-factor than the former Melbourne Storm NRL finisher who will play in Cardiff early on Sunday morning (AEDT).

Koroibete is like a shiny new toy for the playmakers. Kurtley Beale will likely chip kick again for Koroibete as he did perfectly against Japan last weekend, Bernard Foley has targeted him for two long ball tries in Bloemfontein and both now want to use him more in midfield set plays.

"At the start of the year he probably thought he wouldn't play much Test footy but he's sort of made the jersey his own doing some pretty incredible things," said five-eighth Foley, who was talking about moments behind closed doors at training as well as in his five Tests.

Koroibete actually isn't that silent anymore.

Marika Koroibete has emerged as one of the Wallabies’ key attacking threats.
Marika Koroibete has emerged as one of the Wallabies’ key attacking threats.

"When he first came in (to tour a year ago) he didn't say a word for three or four months but watching him open up, laugh and now be one of the loudest is something I enjoy on top of him offering that genuine out and out pace we've probably lacked," halfback Will Genia said.

There are fascinating match-ups across rebranded Principality Stadium for this Test.

How bullocking Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani can tenderise Dan Biggar and Owen Williams, the dual playmakers picked by Wales, Wallabies pillar Adam Coleman stepping up against craggy Welsh lock Alun Wyn Jones and Koroibete opposing sidestepping Welsh wing Steff Evans are just three.

"Adam is certainly up for the battle because he's going to get a real taste against an outstanding talisman in the dark arts of forward play and technique," Cheika said.

Fifty-one tries in 11 Tests this year is excellent output in attack but Cheika is demanding one major improvement to keep feeding chances.

Samu Kerevi will be tasked with shutting down Wales’ playmakers.
Samu Kerevi will be tasked with shutting down Wales’ playmakers.

"We were taken to town at the ruck by Japan where we lost half a dozen of our balls so if we want to play attacking footy you've got to own those rucks," Cheika said.

The players have consistently talked of pushing hard for more wins on this tour rather than seeing the 23-18 upset of the All Blacks last month as the summit for a cosy wind-down.

"It was the first taste of beating the All Blacks for a number of guys but we don't hang our hat on beating one side or one game," Foley said.

"In that sense of building experience we are on track but we are nowhere near where we need to be in two years (for the 2019 World Cup)."

The 12 straight wins for the Wallabies over Wales since Beale's Cardiff Test debut in 2009 is not a key number for the coach because he doesn't see a psychological edge.

"I don't. I've never been a believer in this momentum thing and the last game because that previous record all goes out the window at 0-all at the kick-off," Cheika said.

Playing Beale at fullback, where he can launch counter attacks as well as move forward into first receiver, is the best way to add the fizz missing without Israel Folau for a bit more Welsh dragon slaying.

With Israel Folau absent, Kurtley Beale will need to inject urgency from fullback.
With Israel Folau absent, Kurtley Beale will need to inject urgency from fullback.

Welsh coach Warren Gatland has won just three of 35 Tests against Australia, South Africa and the All Blacks during his reign and disruptive defence is a first step to any upset.

"They have a massive midfield and two wingers who are pretty direct so if we don't tackle it doesn't matter how well we attack," Gatland said.

It may just be that this patch of Wales is such a happy hunting ground for the Wallabies because it is the best guarantee of good weather conditions in Europe because of the stadium roof.

The canny Welsh have let the rain in before closing the roof, to aid their cause on occasions, but by picking two playmakers they too want it fast to use the classy attack of Evans and British and Irish Lions duo Liam Williams and Jonathan Davies.


Principality Stadium, Cardiff, 4.15am (AEDT Sunday)

TV (live): beIN Sports, SBS

Referee: Glen Jackson

WALES: Leigh Halfpenny, Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies, Owen Williams, Steff Evans, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies, Taulupe Faletau, Josh Navidi, Aaron Shingler, Alun Wyn Jones (c), Jake Ball, Tomas Francis, Ken Owens, Rob Evans

Reserves: Kristian Dacey, Nicky Smith, Leon Brown, Cory Hill, Sam Cross, Aled Davies, Owen Watkin, Hallam Amos

WALLABIES: Kurtley Beale, Reece Hodge, Tevita Kuridrani, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Sean McMahon, Michael Hooper (c), Ned Hanigan, Adam Coleman, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Scott Sio.

Reserves: Stephen Moore, Tom Robertson, Allan Alaalatoa, Matt Philip, Ben McCalman, Nick Phipps, Henry Speight, Karmichael Hunt

Topics:  marika koroibete wallabies

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