Marika Koroibete is officially leaving Australian rugby and the Melbourne Rebels, with the star winger confirming his move to Japan on Friday.
Amid much ado in Japan, Robbie Deans’ 2021 championship-winning Panasonic Wild Knights welcomed Koroibete for the country’s first fully professional season next year.
The 2019 John Eales Medallist as Australia’s player of the year will link up with the Wild Knights for the Japan Rugby League One kicking off on January 7.
While widely forecast, Koroibete’s departure is nevertheless a huge blow for the Rebels and Wallabies, with Test coach Dave Rennie reluctant to use overseas-based players for national duty.
“I am very excited to be joining Saitama from 2022 season. I have been a big fan of the growing game in Japan and enjoyed my time in the country for the 2019 Rugby World Cup,” Koroibete said.
“I am looking forward to joining a very successful organisation that strives for greatness and working hard to ensure Panasonic continue to win titles.
“I have heard great things about Robbie Deans coaching and have had pleasant experiences in our brief chats so far. I cannot wait to join Robbie’s coaching staff and the rest of the team, train hard and get the fans off their seats.
“My family and I are excited to arrive in Japan and experience more of the country’s great culture whilst playing some great rugby with an exciting team, great coaching staff, successful organisation and thriving rugby competition.”
The Wild Knights won the last Top League title this year, beating Suntory Sungoliath, who have Eddie Jones as a consultant in the final.
Koroibete will join fellow Australians Dylan Riley and loose forwards Jack Cornelsen and Ben Gunter on the club’s roster