Tigers fume as Marika Koroibete misses pre-season training due to visa snag

AWOL: Marika Koroibete Photo: Dallas Kilponen
AWOL: Marika Koroibete Photo: Dallas Kilponen

Wests Tigers winger Marika Koroibete failed to return to pre-season training with the rest of the side on Monday morning.

He was due to return from extended leave granted after playing for Fiji in the World Cup in November, but his tardiness in reapplying for a visa has delayed his arrival until at least the end of the week.

Tigers' officials had to resort to Koroibete's Instagram account to trace and contact the absent player.

The winger then sent a text message from Fiji to coach Michael Potter on Monday to inform him of the delay, saying Australian immigration was waiting for a copy of his private healthcare policy before approving a new visa.

The club sponsors the Fijian's stay in Australia and Fairfax Media understands officials had done all the necessary paperwork at their end. It was left to Koroibete to lodge the paperwork but he has delayed doing so.

The club expects him to arrive by Thursday and he faces heavy sanctions if he does not show up by the end of this week. Wests Tigers chief executive Grant Mayer said the club had done everything it could to ensure Koroibete's stay in Australia would be extended.

"We have provided everything we can to make it easy for Marika to get back into Australia," Mayer said. "It seems that he hasn't been as meticulous as perhaps he should have been, but it appears he will be back in the country by Thursday."

Koroibete was one of a handful of Fijian players based in Australia who were unable to return here with the rest of the side after the World Cup and he flew from London to Fiji instead.

Communication in Koroibete's village of Navaiyawa is erratic. There is only one landline telephone in the village.

The 21-year-old has been a revelation on the Tigers' flank since scoring four tries in his second top-grade game in 2012. His second season was plagued by injuries, especially a dislocated elbow and a fractured cheekbone that restricted him to nine games.

The rest of the squad - minus captain Robbie Farah, who has been granted an extended break after the World Cup - returned to pre-season training at Concord Oval on Monday. Mayer said the squad had trained well.

"There was a lot of enthusiasm for their first day back," he said. "There will be fitness testing [on Tuesday] which is never an exciting time for the players."

This story Tigers fume as Marika Koroibete misses pre-season training due to visa snag first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.