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Flyer faces delays

Sydney Morning Herald
Monday, January 06, 2014

An incomplete visa form has led to complications for Wests Tigers flyer Marika Koroibete and could delay his return to Australia before pre-season training today.

Fairfax Media understands a paperwork bungle held up Koroibete in England as he tried to leave the country following the recent world cup, where he played for Fiji.

He has since returned to Fiji and is expected to report for Tigers training at Concord Oval when pre-season training resumes today.

The club sponsors Koroibete's visa and Tigers officials are confident the visa is a mere formality, but only once paperwork is lodged.

It is unknown if that has happened. Wests Tigers chief executive Grant Mayer said he was confident Koroibete would return once his leave ended.

"Our expectation is that Marika will be back with the squad on January 6," Mayer said.

"We understand that he has had some issues in regards to getting his visa approved.

"We've certainly assisted where and when possible and look forward to welcoming him back along with the full squad on January 6." The 21-year-old has been a revelation on the Tigers flank since scoring four tries in his second top-grade game in 2012.

Injuries plagued his second season, highlighted by a dislocated elbow and a fractured cheekbone, which restricted him to nine games.

Koroibete had been granted an extended leave from pre-season training after featuring for Fiji in their semi-final loss to Australia.

The Tigers' other World Cup players, including recruits Pat Richards and Keith Lulia, as well as internationals James Tedesco and Joel Luani, returned to training before Christmas.

Skipper Robbie Farah is not required back at training until the middle of January, having featured in Australia's opening three pool games before losing his bench spot to Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans.

The bulk of NRL teams return to pre-season training today. Newcastle and Brisbane returned last Friday.

After finishing the 2013 season second from bottom, the Tigers hope a younger generation of players are able to turn things around. Luke Brooks, Mitchell Moses and Curtis Sironen will carry added responsibility following the departure of Benji Marshall to Super Rugby franchise the Blues.

Recruits Martin Taupau, Cory Paterson and Blake Austin will push for time in the top grade, while the return of Dene Halatau will provide much-needed experience.

Lote Tuqiri, Joel Reddy, Blake Ayshford and Eddy Pettybourne joined Marshall in leaving the club at the end of last year. The Tigers meet St George Illawarra in round one of the NRL season.

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