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

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From Mike Henson
BBC Sport
A jump, a different jag a burst of pace, a hint of a random, a step inside, a canter underneath the poles – the ball clutched in 1 hand and four prospective tacklers choking on fumes with got nowhere near it.
Joe Cokanasiga has scored tries. He scored another two at Kobe in the 45-7 World Cup win over the United States of England.
He has 12 back home from the Premiership.
However, the score that defines him came on a few million people and a chilly October afternoon before a rack.
Topsy Ojo needed a seat. The wing had been left to give Cokanasiga his Championship debut against London Scottish at 2016.
The response on the bench was shock and amazement inspiring, he tells BBC Sport, recalling Cokanasigas magnificent solo attempt.
The situation that he got the ball initially – inside his 22m – youd think he should clean it, but this isnt actually in his mentality.
His skillset is to conduct and conquer people. He just took off and 10 seconds after that he was under the sticks
I recall we all looked at each other, jaws open, such aswow, that was special.
Video of the attempt spread fast online. Only the audiences would spot the little finger-point salute as he goes around 22, that Cokanasiga makes to the audience.
Im claiming that! Says Phil Cokanasiga, Joes younger brother, England international and London Irish prospect. I was stood next to the camera, but I know he had been pointing at me.
For much of his lifetime Phil had observed opposition defences and pitches, tearing up.
I remember roughly 2008 or 2009, when I was eight or seven, we had been playing for our school in Germany in a tag rugby championship, Phil recalls.
Were playing a year up and I went over to see him once Id finished my match. He had been all speed, he could not run over people clearly, and that he was pretty good even then.
Germany was just one stop from the match globe-trotting childhood. Their next was Brunei, the country perched in the South China Sea, as they followed their father Ilaitias deployments.
It had been there Joe started to turn his concentration – in which he had been a – .
Faster than his adolescent peers, larger and stronger, he had been fast-tracked from Brunei rugby to the adult match, playing along with his father for club side Bandar Blacks.
Bruneis teens might have been spared the sight of Joe thundering at them with ball in hand, but Phil was not.
The pair would play football in the garden.
Phil would mimic the Waratahs Israel Folau. Joe favored the Hurricanes Julian Savea. The glimpses the set would get of English rugby in Brunei were clips of strikes and fisticuffs. The pair were interested by Manu Tuilagi and Chris Ashton in May 2011.
Four decades later and it was a Joe Cokanasiga back in England and signed up to the London Irish academy than Ashton or Tuilagi, making an appearance at the 2015 World Cup, albeit in a low-profile cameo.
Cokanasiga was part of a Fijian dance troupe who played until the sides of Stuart Lancaster opener against the Islanders on the pitch, posing for photographs with fans who had been unaware that a future England star was in their middle.
Joe may have abandoned Fiji as a three-year-old, however, Ilaitia makes sure both his sons remember that legacy.
Dad constantly reminds Joe that when he represents England, he is also a Fijian and not to forget his origins, says Phil.
He told us back ourselves because we are extremely different to the majority of players.
A huge thing was confidence and to always feel I know that it sounds big-headed – we are the most effective on the area, since it brings out the best in us.
Touchline fathers tend to think their sons are the very best.
Its something when the players that had to compete against that offspring to get a place concur.
Ojo has played almost 200 matches in addition to lining up contrary All Black hot-stepper Sitiveni Sivivatu in one of his two England looks.
Can he remember playing against like Cokanasiga anyone?
I played Alessana Tuilagi a good deal. He was a massive physical carrier, but hed likely run straight at you, Ojo said.
Then there are guys like Sinoti Sinoti that have a vicious step, but maybe not that offload threat – whereas Joe offloads such as Leone Nakarawa.
This was something that stood out of me when I first saw him. He could carry the ball easily in one hand – which wasnt something which you would teach to children and he gave him an additional threat.
You cant go low since he will only offload. It is really tough to get near the ball if you go . Its a different threat from this which you face.
Growing up outside the system helped himgave him the ability to do anything different. I cant consider anyone who has those threats in 1 package.
Cokanasigas chances might be limited at the World Cup with Jonny May and Anthony Watson recognized as Jack Nowell and options accessible once more to go coach Eddie Jones.
But when England need a game-breaker and also are up against it, he could dance on the World Cup stage.
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