Eto Nabuli will line up against fellow Fijian Marika Koroibete on Saturday.
Eto Nabuli will line up against fellow Fijian Marika Koroibete on Saturday. DAVE HUNT

Fijians ready to come face to face

RUGBY UNION: Two years ago they were teammates for Fiji's rugby league side.

But on Saturday night, code-hoppers Eto Nabuli and Marika Koroibete mark each other on a Super Rugby wing in Melbourne with their respective teams aching for a win.

Nabuli has provided some of the bright moments for the Reds this year, his second in rugby since leaving NRL's St George Illawarra, with seven tries.

Koroibete's first appearance with the Rebels, a 71-6 defeat by the Hurricanes, was a major shock to the system for the 2016 Storm grand final player.

The wingers played a Test together in 2015, the last season in league before Nabuli joined the Reds.

"We played at the Gold Coast against Papua New Guinea. We hung around after training," Nabuli said.

"I've known him from when we were in Sydney, both playing rugby league. He was at the Tigers and I was at Penrith. We used to sometimes go and attend a church meeting.

"But we will both want to win this week with our team."

Nabuli, 28, played only 14 NRL games in his league career, 60 fewer than Koroibete, who is four years his junior.

But there is no sense with the Reds winger that league is an itch he needs to scratch.

Off contract with the Reds, Nabuli's manager will go into talks over his future with a clear view of which competition he wants to play in.

"I would like to keep playing Super Rugby. I love Super Rugby," Nabuli said.

"I'm waiting for my manager (to continue negotiations). I don't know. My wife and daughter would love (me) to play in Brisbane.

"I played rugby at home and I prefer to play it.

"I watched the rugby at home on TV. I watched Quadey (Quade Cooper), I think, when I was young and he was playing for the Reds. I was dreaming one day to play Super Rugby."

Cooper is only a year older than Nabuli, who had to be patient for top-flight football after playing a lot of NSW Cup league for Penrith's feeder team before his breakthrough with the Dragons.

Nabuli, from Sigatoka in the southwest, a town of 9000, took advantage of a Reds bye week to have a few days in Fiji with family.

Koroibete, from Suva, has drawn better reviews than many Rebels players from recent matches in a season that places them 18th, three spots worse off than the Reds.

Rebels coach Tony McGahan said last week the bearded winger's all-round work had improved and he wished his teammates could fashion better opportunities for him with the ball.