Wallaby Samu Kerevi has defended rugby-bound winger Marika Koroibete from accusations he is money hungry for describing his move away from the NRL as a “business decision”.
Koroibete will play his last match for the Melbourne Storm in Sunday’s NRL grand final before switching codes and joining the Melbourne Rebels, with a view to eventually establish himself as a Test player the Wallabies.
But the 24-year-old Fijian flyer has come in for harsh criticism after admitting he would have preferred to stay with the Storm had they presented him with a better offer.
Kerevi, who was also born in Fiji, believes those critics don’t have a grasp on the finer “cultural differences” that motivate players from Pacific Island nations to move abroad.
“Everyone’s got a family. But for us, our extended family comes into it. Everyone in the same village, it’s kind of like a bigger family,” Kerevi told AAP.
“That’s why you see a lot of Fijians overseas. You may think they’re just there to cash in but they’re not, they’re really trying to help their family.
“I know in my family, we’ve got my uncles and their wives and they all live together. There’s 12 or so of them in Fiji living in one house.
“Any money I get is shared back into our family, helping secure our future – if it’s buying a home, property or land, that’s where it goes, not just for myself.
“I didn’t get brought up just by my mum and dad. I got brought up by my grandfather who’s not even my actual grandfather – he’s my grandfather’s sister’s husband.
“For me, I’ve called them mum and dad for a long time. His kids, I call them brothers and sisters. We don’t have that cousin thing.
“For me to give that back to them, it’s a massive blessing for me to be able to do that.”
Kerevi said Koroibete, who is in line to join the Wallabies squad for their Spring Tour, had every right to chase his true value on the open market.
“There’s a lot of big dog players in Melbourne too – they get their money. Why can’t he?” he said.
“I respect that – from my Islander perspective, I understand what he’s trying to do.
“If you’re going to get a bigger offer from a different company and you’re not going to take it because you love your company, that’s good on you.
“But you might not be in the same situation as another person.”