Koroibete looking to take game to next level after second John Eales Medal

Marika Koroibete

Marika Koroibete hopes to take his electrifying game to even greater heights after clinching a second John Eales Medal as Australian rugby’s Player of the Year.

Despite only playing nine Tests in 2022, the Japan-based flyer became the sixth Wallaby to win the award on multiple occasions, having first taken it out in 2019. 

In the poll voted on by Australia’s players after each Test, Koroibete drew 202 votes to be a clear winner over back-rower Rob Valetini (170) and prop Allan Alaalatoa (168).

Koroibete, who switched from the NRL to rugby union in 2017, was the stand-out in Australia’s 2-1 Test series loss to England last July, collecting the John Cadbury Plate as the Wallabies’ best, before also impressing with his work-rate through the Rugby Championship.

The winger’s memorable try-saver on Springboks flyer Makazole Mapimpi was one of the all-time great tackles and helped Koroibete to be named in the World Rugby’s Men’s 15s Dream Team of the Year.

The 30-year-old didn’t play on the Wallabies’ Spring tour to Europe and the UK but had already accrued enough votes in the first nine Tests of the year to secure the medal.

He joins George Smith (2002, 2008), Nathan Sharpe (2007, 2012), Michael Hooper (2013, 2016, 2020, 2021), Israel Folau (2014, 2015, 2017) and David Pocock (2010, 2018) as multiple winners of the award.

“It’s an honour to be awarded the 2022 John Eales Medal, especially in a season where so many players played well in the Wallabies jersey,” the Fiji-born star said.

“Rugby is a team sport first and foremost, so I’d like to thank my teammates and to know they were the ones who voted for me to win this award means a lot.”

Former Wallabies skipper John Eales, who played 86 Tests, lauded Koroibete’s consistency.

“Marika’s consistency in attack and defence has become a feature of the Wallabies since his debut,” Eales said. 2He combines passion and skill in the perfect measure.”

But Koroibete isn’t satisfied and wants to raise his game even further in this all-important World Cup year, despite Wallabies coach Eddie Jones telling his attacking trump just to continue being himself.

“There’s always improvements,” he said on a zoom call from Japan on Monday.

“Just my repeat speed, especially the ability to go up. So in the TRC (The Rugby Championship), I want my repeat speed to be on another level.

“It’s been a bit inconsistent over here in Japan and last year, and it’s something I want to improve going into camp. “Probably getting older, I’m not as quick as beforehand. It’s something I need to work a bit on coming up,” he said.

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