England wing Cokanasiga to make his first Bath start in 10 months
England winger Joe Cokanasiga will make his first start of the 2021/22 Gallagher Premiership season after coming through unscathed from three recent appearances off the Bath bench. The late February trip to Newcastle was the Fijian-born winger’s first club outing in five months since a September pre-season game versus Cardiff because of a knee injury. Cokanasiga scored twice off the bench to secure that win at Falcons and has since featured twice more off the bench and scored another try.
It was last June, in the final game of the regulation Premiership season, that Cokanasiga last started a competitive Bath match but the winger, who looked the part when scoring for England last July, will now ramp up his club return with a first league start in ten months.
It’s a situation that potentially puts him in the England shop window with Eddie Jones in need of firepower for the upcoming Australian tour following a blunt attack in the recent Guinness Six Nations campaign.
The fit-again winger lines up in a Bath back three with Semesa Rokoduguni, who scored two tries for the Army last weekend, and Tom de Glanville. Speaking to RugbyPass a few weeks ago about the latest Cokanasiga return from injury, Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper said: “He understands his best weight for his power and his size and that is what he works to all the time.
“What you will see is him both developing as a player and as a young man. He is still so young. When we have rehab which is backed up from another injury, what we try to do is change the environment, change the picture a bit to allow them to experience other things so he worked just in a few different environments, still with our guidance on his rehab and his conditioning but he saw some knee expert rehabbers and that sort of stuff.
“This allowed him to not get stale by coming into the same place every day for a long period of time. The biggest thing with Joe is that he loves playing the game. If you speak to any of the boys they all understand his physical size and his dominance and what he can do, but he brings a smile to his face when he is in that sort of form and it’s actually infectious.”
Elsewhere in the Bath team to visit Exeter on Saturday, Charlie Ewels returns to action as skipper following his suspension for his England red card versus Ireland, Nathan Hughes will play the last game of his loan from Bristol while Tom Dunn is in the matchday 23 for the first time since an early February injury.
Bath (vs Exeter, Saturday)
15. Tom de Glanville; 14. Semesa Rokoduguni, 13. Jonathan Joseph, 12. Max Clark, 11. Joe Cokanasiga; 10. Orlando Bailey, 9. Ben Spencer; 1. Valeriy Morozov, 2. Jacques du Toit, 3. Will Stuart, 4. Will Spencer, 5. Charlie Ewels (capt), 6. Josh Bayliss, 7. Sam Underhill, 8. Nathan Hughes. Reps: 16. Tom Dunn, 17. Arthur Cordwell, 18. D’Arcy Rae, 19. Mike Williams, 20. Ewan Richards, 21. Joe Simpson, 22. Danny Cipriani, 23. Will Muir
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