Nines key to Fiji future: Koroibete
Growing up in the tiny Fijian village of Navaiyawa, Rugby Sevens was Marika Koroibete's path to fame if not fortune.
For the Pacific island nation, it represents their best opportunity to taste sporting success on a global stage, be it the annual World Sevens Series (three-time champions) or at the Commonwealth Games (twice silver medallists).
Due to Fiji's suspension from the Commonwealth Games Federation they were not permitted to enter a team into last year's historic Commonwealth Rugby League Championship in Glasgow that was played under the Nines format and saw Papua New Guinea defeat Australia in the final.
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There is hope that by 2022 Rugby League Nines will become a permanent part of the Commonwealth Games program and Koroibete believes it will go a long way towards winning the hearts and minds of a people still learning to embrace rugby league.
"Now rugby league is getting bigger in Fiji. I think everyone just has different tastes but the majority of kids growing up want to play Sevens. That's the big thing in Fiji but I ended up playing rugby league and I love it," Koroibete said ahead of Fiji's Test against Papua New Guinea on the Gold Coast on Saturday.
"[Sevens] is a really big thing. Everyone is looking forward hopefully for Fiji to win the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. Fiji haven't won any gold [medals] for any international participation so hopefully we get the gold.
"The way the Fijians like to play, I think the Nines would be a good thing, almost like Sevens.
"We can show our speed and talent and skills and I think it would be good to play Nines under the Fiji banner."
As one of the form players in the NRL thus far in 2015, Koroibete shapes as one of Fiji's most potent weapons against the Kumuls but the strength of Fijian rugby league is best displayed through other representative teams playing this weekend.
Waqa Blake, Kane Evans and Reagan Campbell-Gillard have all been chosen for City Origin this weekend, Akuila Uate has earned a Country Origin recall while Tariq Sims's selection for Country leaves Korbin Sims as the only member of the Sims family lining up for the Bati on Saturday evening.
Yet still five members of Fiji's backline are current starters for their respective NRL teams with Koroibete's six tries for the Storm – and the manner in which he scores them – providing some of the highlights of the season.
Growing up in Fiji, Koroibete's early rugby league education consisted of nothing more than games of touch footy with his father, uncles and cousins every afternoon after school and said he had no concept of his blistering speed until a tour of Australia with a Fiji under-18s team in 2010.
"I just get the ball and run," Koroibete said of his break-neck approach to the game. "I didn't even think I was fast until the boys were telling me I was fast. So I would go back and watch my video and say, 'Yeah, I am fast'. But not too fast.
"When I was 17 I went to the city to study at college and I saw my cousins were playing rugby league so I said, 'I'll give it a go.'
"I came over here with the Fiji under-18s rugby team in 2010 and played a few games and a few clubs were interested, not including the Wests Tigers. I went back home and the Wests Tigers e-mailed me so I came back to give it a crack and here I am now.
"My parents are super proud of what I have achieved and what I am doing now. Without them I don't come this far and make my dream to play in the NRL and to play for Fiji.
"It's a huge boost to the kids back home, especially the kids who come from my school. Everyone is happy for me, especially my family."