20 May 2016

Sport: Fiji's Koroibete trades league for rugby

11:19 am on 20 May 2016

The Melbourne Rebels have signed Fiji rugby league international Marika Koroibete to a two-year deal in a cross-town raid on the Melbourne Storm.

The 23-year-old winger, capped seven times for Fiji, was the Storm's most prolific try-scorer last season, touching down 16 times in the National Rugby League.

In total Koroibete has scored 39 tries from 57 games with the Wests Tigers and Storm since making his NRL debut in 2012.

Koroibete said it was a "hard decision" to ditch league but the right one for his young family.

"I played rugby until my late teens so I'm very much looking forward to making a rugby career with the Rebels," he added.

Melbourne Storm star Marika Koroibete is returning to Fiji with his NRL team later this year.

Marika Koroibete is a league player no more. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Rebels head coach Tony McGahan told the club's website that signing a quality player like Koroibete is good for the club and the fans.

"To have a really exciting finisher and a guy who can have a little x-factor about him is really important to what he have and how we get better as a squad."

Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy said last week he believed the NRL could have done more to help them retain Koroibete.

He said the Storm did all they could to but the deal being offered by the Rebels - with support from the Australian Rugby Union - had blown the rugby league club out of the water.

Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy.

Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Storm coach said while the NRL is helping clubs lure players from other codes, it doesn't seem enough is being done to keep talent in the game.

"At the end of the day, the NRL, if we go and buy a rugby union player from somewhere, we get him on the salary cap first year for nothing," Bellamy said.

"Here we've got players leaving our game to go to rugby union and we can't get any help at all from the governing body. That seems a little bit strange to me."

Bellamy said the fact Koroibete is headed to the Storm's cross-town rivals adds extra sting to the loss.