15 Moments for 15 Seasons

Wests Tigers are counting down the top 15 moments in the Club's history to commemorate with their 15th Anniversary NRL season.

As voted by the fans, here's Moment No. 12.

 

With just one win from their previous six matches, injury problems and talk of a rift developing between senior players, Wests Tigers were in desperate need for something positive to come from their Round 22 clash in 2012 against Parramatta Eels.

Sitting in 10th position, the joint-merger club was still actually in a position to qualify for finals football, but they would need to vastly improve on their previous performances, which had seen them suffer convincing defeats against North Queensland and South Sydney.

Simply put, they needed a spark — something that they soon found in a relatively unknown winger hailing from a small village in Fiji: Marika Koroibete.

Many Wests Tigers fans were of course already familiar with how devastating Koroibete could be when he got the ball in open space prior to his NRL debut.

The winger had played for the Club’s NYC team in both 2011 and 2012 — scoring 22 tries in his 26 games — and would go on cap off the 2012 season with a two-try performance in their Grand Final victory. The road to NRL beckoned for Koroibete, with the only question being when his time would finally come.

A string of injuries meant that his debut would come as early as Round 21 in 2012, with the winger called in to make his debut against South Sydney Rabbitohs. Koroibete’s next game — and his first ever home game in the NRL — would come against the Eels the following week, where everyone would quickly learn just how potent he truly was.

On the back of a lackluster defensive performance, the match seemed destined to be heading the way of the visitors. Courtesy of a double from former Wests Tigers fullback Jake Mullaney, the Eels had built a 26-14 lead just after the half-time break, before Koroibete clicked into gear and quickly stole all the headlines.

His first try came in the 49th minute when, after linking up on the inside of a Benji Marshall pass, he raced away from four defenders to score under the posts. He had a second just six minutes later, when he finished off a back-line move in the left corner.

The flying Fijian got another chance to show his pace late in the match after he backed up brilliantly on the inside following a break from Matt Utai.

A sharp cutout ball from Marshall saw the Fijian again burst his way towards the line in the final minute of the match, where there would only be one outcome.

Koroibete again planted the ball down — giving him four tries for the match — and an equal share of the Club record for most tries by a player in a single match.

More importantly, he had given those watching a performance they would not soon forget.

“It was a fantastic experience,” said Koroibete after the match in thick English.

“I scored four tries. I couldn’t dream of it happening my second game.

“I just have fun playing.

Reflecting back, Koroibete still holds great fondness about that particular match, and the pride that he knows all watching him back home felt for him.

“Running down the sideline hearing the fans cheer your name — it’s such a good feeling,” said Koroibete. “It gives me such a buzz and I just want to keep going.”

“It was great to achieve my goal to play in the NRL and make my family proud.

“That game was special because I scored four tries but also because it was my first win.

“It was good to get the win as a team and good for me to score as well.”

 

Check out the other Top 15 Moments:

15. Chris Lawrence's debut against Brisbane Broncos — 2006

14. Wests Tigers comeback against Newcastle Knights — 2001

13. Robbie Farah breaks Club Record for most games — 2013