England wing Joe Cokanasiga has revealed he feels nervous ahead of games against top opposition.
Cokanasiga’s power has made him a force on the international stage since making his debut against Japan eight caps ago and he has all the attributes to emerge as a star of the Rugby World Cup.
The 21-year-old Fijian-born giant has crossed five times in six starts, including against Wales and Australia, and has been hugely effective as a battering ram with superb pace.
But for all his formidable physical prowess, he suffers pre-match tension.
“I’m definitely impressed with how I’ve met each challenge. I get quite nervous playing against the big teams like Australia and Wales,” Cokanasiga said.
“Sometimes I question myself whether I can do it. But then once I’m in the game I’m back to my normal sense and just try to do what I do.
“Obviously I hate being nervous but it shows that you do care. But once that whistle goes, something just goes and you think ‘I’m here for a reason’, so just try to show it.
“The last 12 months have gone pretty quickly for me. I haven’t really had time to think about it and process everything but looking back it’s been a dream come true. Hopefully I can keep building on that.”
All five of Cokanasiga’s tries have been scored at Twickenham, but it is another aspect of playing for England that really excites the Bath juggernaut.
“Singing the national anthem tops that, it’s the best thing and a dream come true,” he said.
“I nearly cried on my first cap. Once you’re singing the national anthem you get a lot of emotions coming through and you feel like everything you’ve done has been worth it just for this moment.”
With the start of the 2019 Rugby World Cup just 10 days away, defending Champion New Zealand arrived at Narita International Airport, Japan, on Monday, right after the powerful typhoon Faxai passed through Tokyo area.
Currently ranked No.1 in the world, the All Blacks is set to play against South Africa, Italy, Namibia and Canada in Pool B.
New Zealand have won back-to-back World Cups and will try in Japan to become the first team to win three in a row.
All Blacks opens its World Cup campaign against South Africa on September 21 in Yokohama
The 2019 tournament will be the first held in Asia and the first hosted by a nation outside the sport’s traditional top tier.
Warren Gatland insists Rhys Patchell will be “fine” to travel to the World Cup despite suffering his third concussion in a year in Wales’ 19-10 loss to Ireland in Dublin.
Fly-half Patchell failed a Head Injury Assessment (HIA) after being clattered attempting to tackle CJ Stander in the build-up to Ireland’s first try.
Head coach Gatland admitted Patchell will be assessed by the medics in the next few days, with Wales due to fly to Japan on Wednesday.
Wales have just two fly-halves in their 31-man squad, with Gareth Anscombe recovering from knee surgery and Patchell and Dan Biggar the two playmakers for the World Cup.
Asked if Patchell will be ready to travel to Japan, Gatland said: “He’ll be fine for that. He seems okay in the changing rooms now.
“He’s just got to be assessed in the next few days. We’ll talk to the medics about that and see how he fares over the next couple of days.”
Patchell has endured a wretched run of injury luck, having fought off two previous concussions and a torn hamstring across the course of the last 12 months.
The 26-year-old has acquitted himself well in Wales’ warm-up matches, but now faces a race against time to be fit for the World Cup opener against Georgia on September 23.
Asked if he had any concerns with just two fly-halves in his squad, Gatland said: “Well, we’ll see how he comes out of the next couple of days.
“Yeah he definitely deserves some good luck because he’s gone well. And the ironic thing is that he went low and that’s often where the concussions happen, when players go low and the tackler gets hit by a knee or a hip.
“So that’s something we’ll have to keep watching on with World Rugby.”
Ireland were mightily relieved to find form and ease through with stellar half-backs Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton unscathed.
Rob Kearney, Tadhg Furlong and James Ryan bagged the tries as Ireland moved to the top of the world rankings.
Keith Earls suffered a possible thigh injury however, leaving head coach Joe Schmidt admitting the Munster star will need further assessments.
“With Keith, we’ve just got to wait and see if it’s okay tomorrow,” said Schmidt.
“He potentially could have played on, he feels like he could have but there’s no way in a game like that you’d keep him on.
“It just seemed like his quad, whether it’s a whack in the quad or just above the knee. He was uncomfortable.”