Melbourne Rebels hail Marika Koroibete’s John Eales Medal success, hope young guns follow his lead


“His dedication, the way he applies himself means he has done so well,” Berne said.

“He’s so dedicated and always aiming for the roof in terms of performance.”

Marika Koroibete with the John Eales Medal. Credit:Getty Images

Berne added Koroibete still had much improvement to come considering he has only been in elite rugby for three seasons.

“He understands he’s only three years into this game and he can get better again next year,” Berne said.

“He will come back in and work hard and get better again, he constantly asks questions, wants to know what can I do in this situation, what should I do in that situation.”

The Rebels have gone with a younger list for the 2020 season as the likes of Will Genia, Adam Coleman and other veterans head overseas so Berne hopes his hard work passes onto his teammates.

“We’ve got some young guys joining us, some of them in their first time in Super Rugby so they can pick up so much off this guy,” Berne said.

“It’s not as much what he says but how he carries himself and how he behaves around the place.

“If you had a whole squad of guys committed like Marika and playing at his level of intensity, then you won’t lose too many games.”

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The Rebels begin pre-season training on Monday but their Wallabies stars like Koroibete will return to training later after taking a break following their Rugby World Cup duties.

Koroibete only came to senior rugby at the end of 2016 after being lured to the 15-man game from NRL club Melbourne Storm where he was among the leading try scorers.

He played rugby at junior level in Fiji but moved to rugby league, and had to put in countless hours of work with Wallabies and Rebels coaches to learn the skills and tactical nous needed to play top level rugby union.

Berne said Koroibete also overcame difficulties in adjusting languages between the coaching terms used in rugby league and rugby union as English is his second language.

“It’s such an honour to be in with all the great players who wore this medal, such an honour, I still can’t believe it,” Koroibete said.

“I’m wearing this bloody thing and I’m sweating inside. I’m privileged and humbled.”

Koroibete’s natural speed and power running has helped him hold his own at Super Rugby level and the winger also credited former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika for driving his move to rugby.

Rugby Australia and the Rebels noted Koroibete’s strong form ahead of the Rugby World Cup by extending his contract until the end of 2021.

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