Rugby: Koroibete named to make his debut in Wallaby XV to play French Barbarians

Marika Koroibete in action during a Wallabies training session. Photo / Getty Images
Marika Koroibete in action during a Wallabies training session. Photo / Getty Images

Marika Koroibete will play his first top-line game of rugby on Thursday after being name in an experimental Wallaby XV side that includes the shock returns of veterans Mark Gerrard and Ben Mowen.

Former Melbourne Storm NRL star Koroibete will get his first chance to showcase his accelerated development since being named in the Wallabies' spring tour squad by lining up against a French Barbarians side in Bordeaux.

Gerrard, who is 34 and has not played for Australia since 2011, has been picked in the team by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, although Cheika will not be in Bordeaux for the game because he'll be with the frontline Wallabies in Dublin preparing for Saturday's Test against Ireland.

With the Grand Slam still alive, none of the Wallabies coaching staff will be leaving camp for the midweek match, instead focusing on defeating a strong Irish side that has beaten the All Blacks this year.

In their place, a new team of coaches led by former Wallabies assistant Scott Wisemantel will run the secondary side.

The 19-man squad features seven players chosen in the initial touring squad: Koroibete, Will Skelton, Tom Robertson, Nick Frisby, Jack Dempsey, Andrew Kellaway and Izaia Perese.

The rest have recently joined camp or will fly to Bordeaux directly for the game, including 31-year-old former Wallabies captain Mowen, who plays for French club Pau.

"With the Wallaby XV, we want to create a mix of experienced players as well as our developing players coming through," Cheika said.

"A lot of these lads have been with us over the past three weeks on tour and have been preparing for this Wallaby XV game as their Test match, especially against an international line-up that the French Barbarians will have."

Wisemantel will be assisted in the coaching ranks by former internationals Morgan Turinui, Justin Harrison and Chris Whitaker.

"It's a great opportunity for me and I'm excited by the potential of some of these young Australians coming through the ranks," Wisemantel said.

"It's a perfect setting for their development as well as my development as a coach.

"This week is a great opportunity not only for the players but also for the coaches and staff to show they can impress at the International level."

Other notable inclusions in the side are overseas-based former Wallabies Peter Kimlin and Nathan Charles, and rookie prop David Lolohea, whose NRC form got him a nod.

Cheika added that up to five members of his top squad could be sent to Bordeaux to make up the rest of the numbers, and some of them could also potentially play against Ireland two days later.

Wallaby XV squad: Sam Carter (ACT Brumbies) Nathan Charles (Clermont), Jack Dempsey (NSW Waratahs), Sef Fa'agase (Queensland Reds), Nick Frisby (Queensland Reds), Mark Gerrard (Toyota Industries Shuttles), Andrew Kellaway (NSW Waratahs), Peter Kimlin (Grenoble), Marika Koroibete (Melbourne Rebels), Jono Lance (Western Force), David Lolohea (Western Sydney Rams), Ben Mowen (Pau), Taqele Naiyaravoro (NSW Waratahs), Andrew Ready (Queensland Reds), Izaia Perese (Queensland Reds) Tom Robertson (NSW Waratahs), Paddy Ryan (NSW Waratahs), Will Skelton (NSW Waratahs), Nic Stirzaker (Melbourne Rebels).

Wallaby XV coaching staff: Scott Wisemantel (Montpellier assistant), Morgan Turinui (Melbourne Rebels assistant), Justin Harrison (former Narbonne head coach), Chris Whitaker (Montauban assistant).

French Barbarians vs. Wallaby XV at Stade Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux, November 25, 8.45am NZT (Not being televised).

- news.com.au

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