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Rebels sign league star Koroibete for Super Rugby

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The Melbourne Rebels have signed exciting league star Marika Koroibete for the 2017 Super Rugby season.

The 23-year-old, regarded as one of the most electrifying talents in the National Rugby League (NRL), will swap codes next year after agreeing to a two-year deal with Super Rugby’s Melbourne Rebels.

The Fijian winger has scored 39 tries in 57 games with the Wests Tigers (2014) and Melbourne Storm (2014-) since he made his first grade NRL debut in 2012.

“Marika’s exceptional strength, explosive speed and try scoring ability makes him a handful for opponents and we feel his attributes will be well suited to Rebels Rugby,” Melbourne Rebels General Manager Rugby Operations Baden Stephenson said.

Melbourne Rebels Managing Director Andrew Cox said “it’s an exciting signing for the Melbourne Rebels, Victorian and Australian Rugby.”

“The signature of Marika Koroibete is an endorsement of the Rebels growing part of Melbourne’s sporting culture and vision to become a world leading Rugby club on and off the field.”

Koroibete, considered one of the fastest players in the NRL, finished last year as the Melbourne Storm’s leading try-scorer (16 tries) and has scored five tries in eight appearances this season.

Since making his international debut at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup against Ireland, Koroibete has represented Fiji on seven occasions, which includes two tries in a Man of the Match performance against Papua New Guinea in his last outing last year.

“It was a very hard decision to make to leave Storm, but it’s a great opportunity for my young family here in Melbourne and my family back home in Fiji,” Koroibete said.

“I played Rugby until my late teens so I’m very much looking forward to making a Rugby career with the Rebels.”

Koroibete’s signing highlights a positive year for the Rebels, which includes growing membership, increase in average attendance and historic results.

Meanwhile the Rebels have also retained homegrown players Sione Tuipulotu and Rob Leota until the end of 2019.

The pair have penned two-year extensions with the Rebels this week after they became the first Victorians players to graduate from the local elite pathway to sign their first professional contracts with the club ahead of the 2016 season.

Tuipulotu and Leota, along with teammate Harley Fox, were last week named in the Australian U20’s team for the 2016 World Rugby U20’s Championship in Manchester, UK, in June.

“It’s fantastic to have both Sione and Rob re-sign with the Rebels,” Melbourne Rebels Head Coach Tony McGahan said.

“They’re local players that have done really well and worked their way through the system so we’re excited about the talent of those two and more importantly where we think they can end up in our program at the Rebels.

“To have two young talented Victorian kids showing the way is exciting and we’re hopeful there are many more young men in Victoria playing Rugby that are inspired by their opportunities and follow in their footsteps.”

Tuipulotu made his Super Rugby debut at outside centre against the Queensland Reds in Round 3 in front of family and friends at AAMI Park.

The 18-year-old, born and raised in Frankston, has made three appearances for the Rebels since joining the club and will contest his second underage world championship with the Australian U20’s team.

“It’s exciting to re-sign with the Rebels and gives me confidence in my game so I’ll be sticking around Melbourne for a little while longer which is great to continue to have support of my friends and family,” Tuipulotu said.

“I’ve seen my game develop in leaps and bounds since joining the Rebels. I’ve always been coached how to carry the ball and tackle hard but the opportunity to train and play alongside experienced wise heads have helped me to understrand my game better.”

Preston-native Leota recently returned from an ankle injury, which has sidelined the 19-year-old since he impressed during the Rebels pre-season, to make his Australia U20’s debut in the two-game series against New Zealand.

“I’m stoked to be able to stay and play professional Rugby in my home town,” Leota said.

“It’s a massive honour to be able to put on the Rebels jersey for my family and friends. It’s great that Sione and I have shown the young Victorian players that there is a goal to strive for here in Melbourne.”

Leota, Tuipulotu and Fox travel to Sydney on Wednesday to join Australian U20’s teammates at the Sydney Academy of Sport, Narrabeen for a final camp before heading to Europe to kick off its latest World Championship campaign.

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