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Rokoduguni ready for England chance

Published 10/07/2015

Bath wing Semesa Rokoduguni is determined to make the most of his England opportunity as the World Cup countdown continues
Bath wing Semesa Rokoduguni is determined to make the most of his England opportunity as the World Cup countdown continues

Semesa Rokoduguni is set for the second phase of an eventful pre-World Cup journey this weekend after being given a chance to relaunch his England career.

The Fiji-born Bath wing initially missed out on a place in England's 50-man World Cup training squad, but David Strettle's decision to take up early residency in France with new club Clermont Auvergne created an opportunity for Rokoduguni.

He was back in Fiji on holiday when the call came, and after an initial training camp at England's Surrey base, he will now jet off to Colorado with a 45-player England group as the countdown continues to head coach Stuart Lancaster announcing his final 31-man World Cup party late next month.

Rokoduguni, who is currently on a sabbatical from the British Army, made a high-profile Test debut against world champions New Zealand at Twickenham last November.

But injury then contributed to him drifting out of contention, and he presently remains a member of international rugby's one-cap club.

While making the World Cup squad represents a tall order with wings such as Anthony Watson, Jack Nowell, Jonny May, Chris Ashton and Marland Yarde around, 27-year-old Rokoduguni is at least back on the England scene.

"I was surprised, and excited," he said. "I didn't expect a call-up, and then I get a phone call to say there is an opportunity for me to get back in the squad.

"It was disappointing to miss out, but to get the phone call was pretty exciting.

"I was in one of the hotels in Fiji - the Mana Island Resort - when I got the call. I had planned a couple of days there and then go back to the village with my family, but it was a case of 'you need to go, you need to get your stuff and go to the plane'.

"I spoke to the head coach a couple of months ago, when I wasn't on it (squad), and I said to him 'the only thing I can do now is keep fit, keep doing what I'm doing, and keep thinking positive'.

"It's the nature of contact sports that injuries will happen, and I needed to be ready."

Rokoduguni has revealed that his military experience helped him after he fell out of the England reckoning following the thrill of making an international bow against Richie McCaw's All Blacks.

"It has been one of those journeys," he added. "Everything was happening, and then suddenly there was a pause. It has been really frustrating, but coming back into the squad has been exciting.

"It is similar to what we do in (military) training - the mental side to deal with setbacks. We are taught to be flexible at all times, and this was useful for this situation."

With England opening their World Cup campaign against Fiji at Twickenham on September 18, Rokoduguni could find himself in the frame to face the land of his birth.

But he said: "Everyone has been very supportive. There has only been positive feedback, although one or two mates questioned me playing for England against Fiji. I told them that it was a massive honour, to play for one of the best sides in rugby.

"I have a couple of mates playing for Fiji, and the vibe is high. They are really looking forward to it."

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