Rugby World Cup: England wing Joe Cokanasiga – from dancer to main event

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From Mike Henson
BBC Sport
A jump, a 40-metre canter below the poles, a different jag, a burst of pace a measure inside – the ball clutched in one hand and four prospective tacklers choking on fumes with got nowhere close to it.
Joe Cokanasiga has scored attempts. He scored another two at Kobe at Englands 45-7 World Cup win over the United States.
He has 12 back home in the Premiership.
But the score which defines him came on a mere few million people and a cold October day before one rack.
Topsy Ojo had a seat. The wing was left out of the London Irish XV to give Cokanasiga his Championship debut.
The response on the bench was shock and aweinspiring, he tells BBC Sport, recalling Cokanasigas stunning solo attempt.
The position that he got the ball in initially – within his 22m – youd think he should clean it, but that isnt really in his mindset.
His skillset is to conduct and beat people. He took off and 10 seconds after he had been beneath the sticks
I recall we all looked at each other, jaws available, such aswow, that was unique.
Video of the attempt spread fast online. Just the most attentive viewers would place the tiny finger-point salute that Cokanasiga makes to the audience as he moves around though.
Im claiming that! Says Phil Cokanasiga, Joes younger brother, England Under-18 international and London prospect. I was stood near the camerabut I know he had been pointing at me.
For much of his lifetime Phil had observed pitches and resistance defences, tearing up.
I remember roughly 2008 or 2009, when I was seven or eight, we had been playing to our college in Germany in a tag rugby tournament, Phil recalls.
We were both playing up a year and I moved over to see him once Id finished my game. He had been speed, he couldnt run over people clearly, and he was fairly good .
Germany was one stop from the pair childhood. Their second was Brunei, the tiny oil-rich country as they followed their father Ilaitias deployments as part of the British Armys Royal Logistical center perched on the island of Borneo in the South China Sea.
It had been there Joe started to turn his focus – in which he was a controlling centre-back – .
Larger, stronger and faster than his peers, he had been fast-tracked out of the schoolboy rugby of Brunei along with his father for club side Bandar Blacks, playing to the sport.
Bruneis teens may have been spared the sight of Joe thundering at them with ball in hand, but Phil was not.
The pair could play rugby in the garden, recreating the Super Rugby moments they would see on satellite television.
Phil would mimic the Waratahs Israel Folau. Joe favored the Hurricanes Julian Savea. The glimpses the group would get of English rugby in Brunei were viral clips of fisticuffs and big hits. The pair were fascinated by Chris Ashton in May 2011 and Manu Tuilagi.
Four decades later and it signed around the London Irish academy than Ashton or Tuilagi, making an appearance albeit at a cameo and was a 17-year-old Joe Cokanasiga , back in England.
Cokanasiga was a part of a Fijian dance troupe who played before Stuart Lancasters side against the Islanders, posing with fans who had been unaware that a future England star was in their own middle.
Joe may have left Fiji as a three-year-old, but Ilaitia makes sure his sons remember that heritage.
Dad constantly reminds Joe that when he symbolizes England, hes also a Fijian and not to forget his roots, says Phil.
He told us to back ourselves because were extremely different to the majority of players.
A major thing was confidence and to always feel that – I know that it seems big-headed – were the best on the area, as it brings out the best in us.
Touchline fathers constantly tend to think their sons are the best.
It is something once the players that needed to compete against the exact same offspring to get a place concur.
Ojo has played with nearly 200 matches in addition to lining up contrary All Black hot-stepper Sitiveni Sivivatu in one of the two England appearances.
Can he recall playing against like Cokanasiga anyone?
I played against Alessana Tuilagi a good deal. He had been a enormous physical store, but hed likely run straight in the beginning, Ojo said.
Then there are men like Sinoti Sinoti that have a vicious step, but not that offload threat – whereas Joe offloads like Leone Nakarawa.
That was something that stood out of me when I first saw him. He could take the ball in 1 hand – that was not something that you would teach to children and it gave him an additional threat.
You can not go low since he will just offload. It is really hard to get near the ball In the event you go . It is a danger from this which you face.
Growing up outside the machine helped him, gave him the capacity to do something different. I cant consider anybody who has all those dangers in 1 package.
Cokanasigas chances may be limited at this World Cup, with Jonny May and Anthony Watson recognized as Jack Nowell and first-choice options accessible once more to go coach Eddie Jones.
However, when England require a game-breaker and are up against it, he can dance over the World Cup point once more.
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