Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has declared he won’t be handing out any jerseys for free, despite the selection of NRL star Marika Koroibete in his squad for their end-of-year tour.
Despite being named as part of the main squad, Cheika said Koroibete was unlikely to feature in a Test on the tour.
“No one’s getting a jersey for free, no one has and no one ever will,” he told the Australian Rugby Union’s official website.
“He’s obviously a talent who can contribute for us and make an impact further down the road definitely and it’ll give me an opportunity to get up and coach him a little bit first so I can have a look at him before he goes back and plays Super Rugby and I think that that’s a perfectly logical thing to do.”
Koroibete’s selection has been compared by some fans to the recent controversy over a depiction of Cheika as a clown in the New Zealand media, in terms of disrespecting the Wallabies brand but the national coach smacked away that suggestion on Wednesday.
“Pretty ridiculous parallel to try and draw really,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s any link at all. I can understand if you want to be critical about the selection, which you’re totally entitled to.
“I don’t really understand who would be making that comment, or where the parallel is there at all, it’s totally non-relevant.
“The fact of the matter is I’m not cheapening any jersey because he hasn’t got one yet.
“I’ll have a look at him in training, he’s obviously a fine player and he’s a profile of out and out speed, wingers with speed and a line breaker and a guy who’s got a bit of x factor, strong defender.
“He’s got runs on the board, albeit in another code but grown up playing rugby, so it’s not like he doesn’t know the game.”
Cheika said he had spoken with Force winger Luke Morahan, who was effectively the casualty for Koroibete in the latest announcement.
“I’ve had a good look at Luke Morahan this year and he’s had a good opportunity to train with the squad and I had a good conversation about it and yes, he would’ve been disappointed for sure.
“But I’m looking to grow the amount of depth of players that we have and he’s one of the players on this tour that I think will help us in doing that. He’s s not going to be jettisoned in there and start from game one.”
Koroibete is likely to be unveiled in a midweek game against the French Barbarians on November 24.
“We’ll take a look and see how it pans out over the first few weeks but I think the Baabaas game would be a perfect opportunity,” added Cheika.
“It’s a non-capped game and I think it’s an opportunity for play and get the opp to run out with the other guys he’s been training with for those first few weeks.”
The Wallabies depart for their five-week tour on Friday.