England are braced for a “seismic explosion” when Semesa Rokoduguni and Nemani Nadolo collide upon Fiji’s visit to Twickenham on Saturday.
The Pacific Islanders have spoken of the special treatment Rokoduguni and Nathan Hughes will be given due to their Fijian origins after both opted to represent the Red Rose on grounds of residency.
Rokoduguni is the Aviva Premiership’s joint leading try-scorer and the competition’s form wing, while Nadolo is a 6’5″, 22-stone giant cast in the image of Jonah Lomu.
“There could be a seismic explosion on the far side with Nadolo and Rokoduguni running into each other!!” England scrum coach Neal Hatley said.
“Fiji are obviously very motivated and we’d like to think that Roko and Nathan are motivated to play for England. I’m sure that it adds a little spice amongst them as individuals, but they’ve been brilliant the whole week in terms of getting ready to play.”
Rokoduguni will make only his second Test appearance on Saturday having been dropped after a 24-21 defeat by New Zealand two years ago.
Mixed messages followed when Stuart Lancaster’s regime explained his exclusion with Rokoduguni returning to Bath on injury grounds, only to then play the following weekend.
Eddie Jones has suggested he was overwhelmed by the occasion and the way he was handled on his debut, so has bided his time carefully before selecting the visit of Fiji for his comeback.
Twickenham is braced for Nemani Nadolo. Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images
The 29-year-old has beaten more defenders, made more clean breaks and gained more metres than any rival in the Premiership this season, but Hatley insists it is his deeds off the pitch that have truly inspired his England teammates.
A lance corporal and reconnaissance tank soldier of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in the British Army, he completed a tour of Afghanistan in 2011.
“I’ve seen first-hand the knock on effect that Roko’s life experiences have had on the players at Bath,” said Hatley, who was an assistant coach at the Recreation Ground.
“He has got proper life experience, of sitting [in] and driving a tank, which no-one has had any experience of inside the group. The players draw inspiration from that and the value that he brings with that sort of experience is definitely reflected in some of the conversations that we’ve had during the week.
“What I really liked about what he did when he was dropped by England, and obviously I was a Bath coach at the time, is that he came straight back to the club and played on the weekend.
“He’s been fantastic over the last 18 months and he’s had a really good start to this season. He’s probably been Bath’s out and out straight weapon from an attacking point of view.”
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