25 Apr 2023

Koroibete wins second Australia player of the year award

6:25 am on 25 April 2023
Marika Koroibete.
All Blacks v Australia, Bledisloe Cup. Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. Saturday 14 August 2021. © Copyright Photo: Jeremy Ward / www.photosport.nz

Marika Koroibete. Photo: Jeremy Ward

Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete said he was aiming to be at his vintage best at this year's World Cup after winning the John Eales Medal as Australia's best test player for the second time.

In a mark of his relative quality, the powerful Fiji-born back came out top in the 2022 ballot of Wallabies players despite missing the five tests on the end of year tour because of his club commitments in Japan.

Outstanding performances during the July series against England and in the Rugby Championship (TRC) gave Koroibete a sufficient cushion in the voting tally to finish ahead of loose forward Rob Valetini.

The former rugby league flyer, who also took the award in 2019, joined George Smith, Nathan Sharpe, Michael Hooper, Israel Folau and David Pocock as multiple winners of the accolade.

It was, therefore, no surprise to hear that Eddie Jones had been in contact with the 30-year-old after taking over as Wallabies coach for the second time in January.

"He just asked me how I was physically and mentally, asking me what's going here and what's my plans afterwards," Koroibete told reporters via Zoom on Monday.

"I was asking (him) what he wanted from me to help make the team better. He told me just to bring myself.

"He wants everyone to be at their best," he added. "That's the ultimate goal, he wants to win the World Cup, TRC and the Bledisloe Cup. All the measures come from him."

On Friday, Koroibete scored a try as his defending champions Saitama Wild Knights beat Brave Lupus Tokyo 34-22 to secure top seeding in Japan's League One semi-finals.

Despite his contractual obligations to the Japanese club, Koroibete said he was hoping to be one of the three overseas-based players that Jones is allowed to select under Rugby Australia rules.

"I've got two more games here with the Wild Knights, the semi-final and the final, and then it's up to Eddie to pick me ... if he wants," he said.

Despite being in fine form in Japan, Koroibete said he wanted to improve before taking on the world's best in the Rugby Championship in July and World Cup in September and October.

"For me, going into the World Cup and TRC, I want my repeat speed to be on another level," he said.

"I'm getting older, my top speed is not as quick as before, that's something I need to work on a bit.

"When I come to the Wallabies, it's test level, you want to prove yourself as one of the best in the world," he added. "You want to be up there."

Australia kick off the truncated Rugby Championship against world champions South Africa in Pretoria on July 9.