Marika Koroibete has made a habit of slicing open opposition defences yet the electric Wallabies winger reckons he hasn’t met his own Rugby World Cup targets.
In an ominous warning to England ahead of Saturday’s quarter-final, the former NRL star said he’s searching to make more of an impact, even though most judges would rate him among Australia’s best in Japan.
The 27-year-old scored arguably the individual try of the tournament to date with his sparkling 55-metre solo dash against Georgia.
He left four defenders cold with his footwork and acceleration to light up what had been a dour struggle for the Wallabies, the try mirroring his much-replayed jinking score against Samoa in Sydney last month.
Yet Koroibete said he had set high World Cup standards for himself and he was now turning to the tournament’s knockout phase as a chance to achieve his goals.
“Nobody can play a perfect game but I believe I can play better,” he said.
“In games, I’ve identified times I could have been more involved or taken my chances.
“This game (Georgia) some of my defensive positioning, I wasn’t happy about it. Each game I’m coming up with something negative. Next game I’d like it to be positive.”
(Photo by David Ramos – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)
Koroibete’s nine clean breaks is the fifth most at the World Cup, on a list headed by four other outside backs – Josh Adams (Wales, 13 breaks), Warrick Gelant (South Africa, 11), Kotaro Matsushima (Japan, 11) and Jordie Barrett (New Zealand, 10).
He credits his new-found sharpness on attack to the work of Rugby Australia’s athletic performance expert Dean Benton, who was deep in Eddie Jones’ England squad a year ago.
While securing Benton was a coup, Koroibete knows England remain a potent threat out wide.
The Rugby World Cup post-mortems will continue for months yet, and I remain staggered by the point made during the knockout stages that six of the final eight teams would be going into the 2020 season with different coaches to those that took them out of the pool stage.