Otago pounces on rising sevens star

He is Otago's newest star - yet he has not been sighted in blue and gold and has not even turned out for his club.

Vilimoni Koroi has been one of the best for the New Zealand Sevens side on the World Sevens series circuit this year.

He has moved into the playmaker role and has been leading the attack for the New Zealand and also impressing on defence.

All from a guy who turned 19 this month.

Koroi was born in Whanganui to Fijian parents, and went to Feilding High School where he was a bit of a star. He made the New Zealand schools side last year, although he did not get on the field. He was a star at the Condor Sevens, helping his school through to the final.

By the end of last season the lightning-quick back was being tracked by every big-name union in the country and Otago was right in the hunt.

Otago coach Cory Brown said the union put a package together to get him to Dunedin.

``Tim Colling and I, along with a partnership with the Highlanders, showed him round and what we had to offer,'' Brown said.

``He had a couple of trainings with the Highlanders and that was good for him. But he is good mates with Jona Nareki - they've known each other since they were 3 and 4.''

Nareki, who came south early last year, has been selected for the New Zealand Colts side to play in a tournament on the Gold Coast and left yesterday.

Brown said once Koroi signed with both the Otago union and the Highlanders, and came to Dunedin, sevens quickly took over.

``They [New Zealand Rugby] wanted him to go along to a sevens camp and see how it went and they could have a look at him. A couple of days later they rung back up and asked can he stay for the week.''

Koroi, who did not even play in the provincial sevens tournament in Rotorua in January, made his debut at the Wellington sevens tournament and has been ever present since for the New Zealand side. The New Zealand has yet to win a tournament but made it through to the knockout rounds.

Koroi has been the playmaker of the team, directing traffic and picking up tries, in a role usually carried out by a veteran player

New Zealand Sevens coach Scott Waldrom told Newshub last month Koroi had an ability to attack from nowhere and had that Fijian flair.

Koroi, who was studying at Otago Polytechnic but had to give it up because of sevens commitments, is now back home and on leave for a few weeks.

There are two tournaments left on the circuit - in Paris and London next month - but Koroi is unlikely to head to those as he gets over an ankle injury and starts to concentrate on 15s.

He will hopefully line up for his Alhambra-Union club side some time next month.

Brown said Koroi was obviously a special talent and saw him as a fullback.

``What we see now in sevens is a lot of the playmakers are actually fullbacks . . . he is an exciting player and has lots of talent.

``But the best thing for me is his commitment on defence -just his attitude on defence, how competitive he is. Just the way he gets back and knocks guys over.''



The guy has it. hes real and can play....hes young will last playing all the game... hes not an actor .......like we see.