6 February 2018
Joe Cokanasiga has had a flying start to 2018, scoring six tries in his last four outings for the club ahead of this Saturday’s Aviva Premiership fixture against Sale Sharks at the Madejski Stadium (kick-off 3pm).
Joining Eddie Jones’ England set-up for their two day training camp on New Year’s Day, Cokanasiga has taken his game to new heights ever since.
“It was great to get the call from England and it was a great way for me to start the year,” said Cokanasiga, 20.
“The British & Irish Lions guys slotted back into the England camp after their commitments in New Zealand over the summer, so it was an intense couple of days.
“It was fantastic to get that experience again and it’s nice to know that I’m still on the radar for selection. I enjoy working under Eddie Jones as his personality drives me on to get better and better as a player.”
England got their NatWest Six Nations campaign off to a winning start, last week’s 15-46 victory over Italy in Rome setting up a mouth-watering encounter with Wales at Twickenham this weekend. The game will be shown live on big screens at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday.
Cokanasiga crossed for his first Aviva Premiership try at Welford Road earlier this month, his score helping the Exiles to a precious bonus point.
Delighted to get off the mark in the league, Cokanasiga is hoping it is the first of many as his side continue their quest to secure their Premiership status.
“It was a long time coming, but I’m off the mark now and I’m very keen to add to that tally,” said Cokanasiga.
“The try came from some excellent work from Saia Fainga’a, who opened up the space for me. I managed to get on the end of my own kick through and I flew into the advertising hoardings for my troubles.”
His try in front of a packed Welford Road is a measure of the progress that Cokanasiga has made since coming through the senior ranks last year.
Relishing the challenge of the Aviva Premiership, the burgeoning talent said: “Playing against internationals in the Aviva Premiership each week and seeing how I match-up has been great for my personal development and I feel confident about my game at present.
“Playing and scoring at Welford Road gave my confidence a massive boost. It’s certainly been a huge step up from playing Championship rugby last season and it’s taken some time to find my feet in the Aviva Premiership, but I’m in a good place with London Irish and it’s up to me to keep improving.”
Following the score against Leicester Tigers, Cokanasiga then went onto a try-scoring run for Irish.
After crossing the whitewash at home to Krasny Yar in the European Rugby Challenge Cup, Cokanasiga recorded a hat-trick against Wasps in the Anglo-Welsh Cup a fortnight ago to earn himself a place on the shortlist for this year’s Anglo-Welsh Cup Breakthrough Player Award. He then added to his tally with a try in the last minute of last Friday’s game away to Cardiff Blues.
“It’s great to be rewarded for what you’re doing on the pitch and it’s certainly a confidence booster for me,” said Cokanasiga.
“I’m really happy with my game at present and I’m looking forward to more minutes on the field in the coming weeks.
“It’s always nice to score a hat-trick, but I have to thank the forwards for the part that they played in supplying me with the ball in good areas of the pitch.”
London Irish’s next home game is against Sale Sharks in the Aviva Premiership on Saturday 10 February (kick-off 3pm). Tickets are available from £3 for under 13s and £23 for adults if you book in advance by calling the Ticket Office on 0118 968 1016 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, Saturday 9am to noon) or online at www.lidirect.co.uk