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‘Tough guy’ Roko will only get stronger – Blackadder

Semesa RokoduguniSemesa Rokoduguni called on his Army discipline after the huge disappointment of being dropped by England head coach Eddie Jones last week.

The giant Fiji-born, Bath winger blasted his way over for two tries in England’s 58-15 Twickenham victory over the country of his birth a fortnight ago.

But he was deemed surplus to requirements to face Argentina on Saturday and was sent back to his club again on Friday despite the suspension of Elliot Daly.

It was deja vu for twice-capped Rokoduguni, 29, after being dropped following his England debut against New Zealand two years ago.

But Bath’s director of rugby Todd Blackadder said the former lance corporal and reconnaissance tank soldier of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, who served in Afghanistan, had used his military know-how to put the England disappointment behind him.

Kiwi legend Blackadder, below, told The Rugby Paper: “I thought he handled himself really well last week. He controlled the controllables and got man of the match (for England) and didn’t get selected for the next game.

“He didn’t do anything wrong and just came back and played well for us against Harlequins. If he gets another opportunity, he will take it again.”

Blackadder said the wing showed his true colours when he returned to Bath. “I think he is tough. You have to show a bit of resilience at times because not everything is going to go your way.

“He has been performing well and had another opportunity and took it.

“It is up to Eddie Jones whether he selects Roko or not again, it is not up to Roko. He can only control his performance and I think he has done a great job.

“Everyone needs to respect that. They need to leave Roko alone and let him get on and play his footie. He is in the Army. He is a tough boy and he handles it bloody well.”

Serving in the military has hardened Rokoduguni to take disappointments.

Blackadder said: “You get used to your set-backs and knock-backs and, for some people, they make them strong and tough and for others, it really effects them.

“But Roko is one of those guys who just gets stronger and tougher.”

Blackadder was not surprised that Jones sent him back to Bath after the Fiji match – nor again prior to yesterday’s clash with Australia.

“This is just part and parcel of selections and dynamics and what is best for the team.

“It is the coach’s prerogative to do that,” said the 25 cap All Black, who skippered his country 14 times.

“I am not surprised because you see it all the time with guys who come in and play really well but there are others who have earned the respect, are trusted and maybe that the coach just likes them.

“It is about not taking it personally and just keep focusing on the performance side of it. He just needs to keep performing.

“Nobody has a right to any jersey – it is a competitive market now.”

GARY BAKER

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