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Rokoduguni relishing Barbarian test

Semesa Rokoduguni will seek a Test match yardstick in Sunday's England XV clash with the Barbarians.

The Fiji-born serving soldier will stand to attention for the national anthem at Twickenham, before facing All Blacks flyers Hosea Gear and Joe Rokocoko in the non-cap international.

The Bath speedster is the fourth generation of his family to serve in the British Army, admitting pride at representing England in light of his Fijian heritage.

The 26-year-old wing's Recreation Ground contract allows that if Britain goes to war he will return to active service with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.

Rokoduguni may well return to driving tanks in future, but for now he is intent on chasing his ambition of full England honours.

"There are so many wonderful players in the Barbarians team, who have been playing a lot longer than me and have so much international experience," Rokoduguni told Press Association Sport.

"It's a fantastic chance for me to gauge my performance against some of the best players in the world.

"We have some excellent players in our England team too, so it's going to be exciting.

"To be recognised by England, it's wonderful.

"The Army is in my family's blood, my father and my younger brother are both serving now too.

"The first time my dad asked me what I wanted to do I told him I wanted to be a soldier.

"I never knew rugby would happen for me too: my family are all really, really proud of me, they love it.

"Fijians are playing rugby all over the world, in Australia, New Zealand, even France.

"The world is such a small place really these days.

"My dad said 'I want you to play for England, I would love it if that happened'.

"The Army give people opportunities that wouldn't be there otherwise. When you have a responsibility to the force, and they provide you with so much, it's not a difficult choice to make to want to represent England."

Rokoduguni won England Saxons honours earlier in the term, also s coring at Twickenham on May 3 as the Army saw off the Navy 30-17 in the annual inter-services challenge.

The muscular attacking threat caught coach Gary Gold's eye in a training match for the Army against Newcastle Falcons and the South African coach snapped up the raw talent when he moved to Bath.

Rokoduguni believes the Army will now work hard to help more talented rugby players combine a career in the services with Premiership rugby.

Backing Army full-back James Dixon to make the Premiership leap, he said: "Looking back into history there was a TA soldier back in 1992 playing for England [Tim Rodber, who was an army captain in the Green Howards infantry regiment].

"It's rare for a serving soldier to come straight from the Premiership into the England side, that's a massive thing for the Army boys.

"It just shows us what the Army players can do hopefully, and I know they are keen to see more do the same thing.

"I would say Dixon our full-back can do it; he's only 20, but he's got great kicking skills and he's so dangerous with ball in hand.

"If the Army rugby continues to go the same way, helping players through, then there are great chances for young guys to come through to the Premiership and hopefully international rugby too."


From Belfast Telegraph