Marika Koroibete will miss the Wallabies’ Spring Tour of Japan and the United Kingdom for personal reasons.
Coach Dave Rennie confirmed on Sunday the star winger, who endured a frustrating Rugby Championship, will remain in Australia for family reasons.
Promising prop Pone Fa’amausili will also miss the tour after aggravating a calf injury at training.
“Marika’s chosen not to tour,” Rennie said.
“We’ve been discussing it for a while. Obviously we let him go home a week early during The Rugby Championship.
“COVID’s thrown a lot of curveballs at all of us. Marika’s been away from home for a long time, [wife] Emma’s pretty isolated; they’ve had a newborn baby and they’ve got a couple of other young boys.”
In addition to missing the Wallabies’ final Rugby Championship game against Argentina, Koroibete was also banned from the Bledisloe Cup opener in August after breaking the team’s drinking policy during a night out.
Koroibete’s absence against the Pumas enabled Rennie to try Jordan Petaia in the number 14 jersey. He said the 29-year old’s withdrawal from the tour afford similar chances for fringe players to break into the starting team.
The winger’s impending move to Japan next season to play with Top League side Wild Knights could also allow the tour to become ideal preparation should Koroibete’s departure affect his chances of Wallabies selection.
“As always, it’s an opportunity, isn’t it? Marika didn’t play the last game [against Argentina]. Jordie [Petaia] got a start, it gave Tom Wright a sniff off the bench who played really well,” Rennie said.
“Marika’s an unbelievable player, massive work ethic and physicality, so big shoes to feel. But we feel… it’s a position we’ve got a bit of depth in.”
Rennie said despite the twin setbacks, he had no immediate plans to call replacements into the squad.
“We think we’ve got enough numbers here in Japan, [but] we’ll work that out once we get to the UK,” he said.
British-based winger Luke Morahan has already been mooted as a potential Koroibete replacement for the second part of the tour. The 31-year old has played three Tests for the Wallabies and has become a key player for the Bristol Bears in the Premiership, and Rennie is keeping the door ajar for him to be added to the squad.
“Obviously, we were watching him [Morahan], as we’ve been looking at lots of players around the globe,” he said, while forecasting a call-up was more likely than sending an SOS back to Australia should further injuries strike.
We’ve made a real commitment to the guys we’ve left behind to go straight on leave, and to come back in November to have a decent off-season. We’re very focused on maintaining that, which will mean we won’t look back at home to try and bring someone over.”
Fa’amausili’s setback is the latest in a series of injuries that have dogged the 24-year old in 2021. The prop was a chance of being named for a Wallabies debut during the Championship, only for a hamstring niggle to allow veteran Greg Holmes to make a surprise return.
“He’s had ongoing issues around calves and hamstrings,” Rennie said.
“We’ll leave him at home to have a decent off-season and try and get that right.”