- England face Wales on Friday night
- U20's won their Six Nations opener against France
- Watch highlights of their victory over France
If you type the name Joe Cokanasiga into YouTube you will be treated to one of the most incredible tries in Championship history.
The flying London Irish winger announced himself into senior rugby with a superb individual effort on his league debut which showed off all of his skills – pace, power, handling and creativity.
On Saturday, Cokanasiga swapped the green of the Exiles for the white of England, but while the shirt was different the outcome was the same with the young winger powering over against France in their Under 20 Six Nations opener.
It was the opening score of a nine-try victory for England, with Cokanasiga at his rampaging best in what was also his debut at that level.
'Physicality and camaraderie'
The 19-year-old began playing rugby seriously from the age of 13 having initially preferred football.
He was born in Fiji but moved to England at the age of three before spells in Europe and Brunei as a result of his father being in the army.
“I lived in Germany so used to play every day,” said Cokanasiga.
However, a family connection with Fijian forward Akapusi Qera indirectly led to Cokanasiga being picked up by London Irish and he has not looked back since."The best of advice I have been given is to play for your family, that’s all the motivation I need."
“I like the physical element of rugby as well as the camaraderie of being part of a team,” he adds.
For Cokanasiga rugby is a family affair, his father played for the Army, while his Fijian roots mean the sport is in the blood.
“Being Fijian and being around Fijians you already know about rugby before you play it,” he said.
“My dad played rugby for the army so he was very supportive of my early days playing, as was my mother. They have been the main influence on me, my father had one tour of Iraq and one of Afghanistan, I’m really proud of him.
“The best of advice I have been given is to play for your family, that’s all the motivation I need.”
Like father like son
Father and son also got to play together in Brunei while they lived there, forming a formidable centre partnership.
“My dad played 12 and I used to play 13, I let him do all the hard work, break the line and I finished it off,” he recalls.
“Mum was there shouting at him to make sure I didn’t get hurt, he was protective of me though so it’s fine.”
24 hours with the U20s 🌹— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 7, 2017
A day in the life of the future stars of English rugby... pic.twitter.com/vC4huBXA02
Cokanasiga, who moved back to England in 2013, made his debut for England at U18 level last year, a moment he still has fond memories of.
“When I first pulled on an England shirt I just couldn’t believe it was happening. I was just immensely proud. Singing the national anthem gave me goosebumps.”
His performances for his club, including that try against Scottish, have also been a feature of London Irish’s success this season and he credits several people for his development so far.
“The team are on an unbelievable run,” he said. “I was hoping this would be my breakthrough year and I’ve taken my opportunity. The boys have helped me settle in and I need to keep my feet on the ground.
“I’ve got some good mentors at the club, Topsy Ojo, Aseli Tikoirotuma and Alex Lewington while Nick Kennedy and Paul Hodgson are probably my biggest mentors.”
Cokanasiga cites All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu as his hero in the game and also looks up to New Zealand star Julian Savea as well as Bath wing Semesa Rokoduguni.
And after winning their opening match of the Six Nations, he also has his sights set high for this year’s tournament.
“We’ve got a really good group of talented lads and I feel like we have the potential to win the Six Nations.”