Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy concedes the Storm have a fight on their hands to keep Marika Koroibete beyond this season with the Australian Rugby Union reportedly trying to poach the electrifying winger.
Koroibete, who played union while at school in Fiji, is off-contract at the Storm and looms as a likely target for the 15-man game.
“I don’t know anything about that but if that’s the case Marika will have a decision to make,” Bellamy said of reports of the poaching raid.
“It’s going to be his decision and hopefully he decides to stay with us.”
The Melbourne Rebels would be his most likely destination if he was to shift to union, with the Super Rugby club understood to be in the market for a powerful winger.
Koroibete also remains close with fellow-Fijian Sefanaia Naivalu who is signed to the Rebels until the end of next season.
The pair played together as juniors and Naivalu’s quick success could be a motivating factor given he was recently named in an extended Wallabies squad for a training camp.
However Koroibete’s loss would be another blow to an already ailing Storm backline, given he was their leading tryscorer in 2015 after crossing 16 times.
“We’d really like to hang on to him – obviously he’s been a wonderful contributor to our team since he’s been here,” Bellamy said.
“You’d probably nearly class him as a crowd favourite with the way he plays … he just does everything flat out.”
Winger Matt Duffie shifted to the 15-man game last year when he departed the Melbourne club for the Auckland Blues, while Sisa Waqa and Kurt Mann have also recently moved on.
“We wouldn’t like as a code, and certainly us as a club, we wouldn’t like to lose Marika to rugby union … I think that would be a bad thing for our game to lose a player like him,” the coach continued.
“Everyone loves watching him play but it’s probably going to happen more and more … we just need to be a little bit aware it’s ok to be luring rugby union players over here but we don’t want to be losing our top players to rugby union either.
“That might be something for the NRL to think about.”