Tiger's Nines chances boosted by Koroibete

One of rugby league's most exciting speedsters, Marika Koroibete, has overcome a visa hitch which threatened to prevent him from participating in the inaugural Auckland Nines.

The Wests Tigers squad arrived in Auckland on Thursday but there was no sign of Koroibete, who was left behind to sort out paperwork with the immigration department.

A noted speed merchant who has scored 12 tries from his 15 first-grade appearances, Koroibete appears perfectly suited to the truncated version of the game.

Tigers CEO Grant Mayer confirmed Koroibete was stranded in Sydney on Thursday due to red tape. The club even readied utility back Corey Brown, who switched from rugby in the off season, as a standby.

However, the situation was resolved later in the day and Koroibete is expected to arrive in Auckland on Friday.

Koroibete's availability is a boost to the Tigers' Nines prospects.

While they are at long odds for the NRL premiership, the joint-venture outfit is amongst the favourites for this weekend's competition due to their speed in the outside backs.

A former schoolboy sprinting champion who posted a 10.75-second 100-metre time in his teens, Koroibete equalled Kevin McGuiness' record of four tries in a game two years ago.

It's not the first time red tape has stalled Koroibete's footballing commitments. He was late returning for preseason training after finishing his commitments for Fiji in the World Cup.

Club officials had to track down the 21 year old via his Instagram account due to his tardiness in applying for a visa.

Communication problems - there is only one landline telephone in Koroibete's Fijian village Navaiyawa - exacerbated the delay. He eventually returned after submitting a cop of his private healthcare policy to complete his visa application.

Koroibete spoke excitedly about the prospect of participating in the Eden Park event on Wednesday.

"There's going to be lots of people there, all the boys from every club," Koroibete told weststigers.com.au.

"I'm really looking forward to Saturday ... to play with my speed and do my type of thing.

"There are heaps of tough guys [to play against] from other clubs, guys like Ben Barba and [Akuila] Uate. It's going to be hard and we really try to get some momentum, I will try to do my best."

Koroibete's journey from a tiny Fijian village to NRL stardom has made him a cult hero, but Brown's story is no less inspiring. Brown was diagnosed with viral encephalitis when he was 16. The condition causes swelling of the brain and left Brown in a coma for three weeks.

His family was told that if he woke up he wouldn't live an independent life and that his footballing aspirations were over.

However, Brown defied the doctors, went on to top the Sydney club rugby tryscoring list in 2012 and made his debut for the Western Force in their clash against the British and Irish Lions last year.

Also lightning quick, he was picked up as cover for the Tigers' outside backs in the off season. However, he will have to wait for his chance to impress after Koroibete was cleared.

The story Tiger's Nines chances boosted by Koroibete first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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