Semesa Rokoduguni ready to fly for England, says Jeremy Guscott

By Jeremy GuscottRugby union analyst, BBC Sport
Semesa Rokoduguni flies through the air after blasting through the tackle of Newcastle's Tom Catterick
Bath wing Semesa Rokoduguni is flying high after being handed an England call-up

Pace? Check. Power? Check. Can drive a tank? Yeah, he can do that too.

Many people may not be familiar with Semesa Rokoduguni yet, but that looks set to change after the electric Bath winger was called into the England squad for the November Tests.

The Fiji-born Army soldier is joined by Saracens lock George Kruis as a new face in the squad, but it is the Bath firecracker who really sets the pulse racing.

The 27-year-old has played exceptionally well both last season and at the start of this.

He is right up there in terms of defenders beaten and tries scored, and when you have made as much of an impact as he has, you would be disappointed to be ignored.

Lowdown on Semesa Rokoduguni
Born: 28 August, 1987 in Nausori, Fiji
Occupation: Lance Corporal in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards & professional rugby player
Club: Bath - Debut in Nov 2012 v Newport Gwent Dragons. Scored two tries
Appearances: 29 Points: 55 Tries: 11
Played one game for England Saxons v Scotland A; once for England in non-cap game v Barbarians

Players need to play so well that you just have to pick them and Rokoduguni has done that - some of the tries he has scored have been sensational.

Since he joined Bath, the 6ft wing has put on close to two stones in weight and now weighs over 16. He still looks the same but to pack on that body mass and remain just as quick is good news.

He has the ability to maintain his speed over 60 metres as well as 30 metres, unlike some wingers, but his real X-factor is his ability to bump players off and ride tackles, and still maintain his pace.

He also seems to get out of some impossible situations - I was at the Bath v Leicester game this season and thought he was going to run himself into trouble in the Bath 22 but he doubled back, broke through the defence and off he went. Not many players could have done that.

It will be interesting seeing how he fits into the England camp and style - but there's no doubt he's earned the right to be there.

Is Cipriani unlucky to miss out?

Danny Cipriani in action for England in their tour match against the Crusaders this summer
Danny Cipriani had a decent New Zealand tour but the competition at fly-half is very strong

I don't think it's a surprise Danny Cipriani has not been named in the squad as it was always going to be one of those tough calls - fly-half is a very competitive position.

While the Sale player went on New Zealand tour and certainly didn't do himself any harm, George Ford has come back after his operation in the summer and has been mostly exceptional for Bath.

Northampton's Stephen Myler has been in very good form and Owen Farrell is currently Lancaster's go-to man at 10, so although he's been out for a few weeks the Saracens player was always going to be in.

Cipriani, 26, would have had to have exploded on to the scene this season - much like Rokoduguni - to have made the squad on Wednesday.

And let's not forget Freddie Burns. He had an exceptional first Test in the summer, when Cipriani was on the bench.

England's autumn internationals (all times GMT)
Saturday 8 November 14:30 - England v New Zealand
Saturday 15 November 14:30 - England v South Africa
Saturday 22 November 19:00 - England v Samoa
Saturday 29 November 14:30 - England v Australia

No matter what form Burns has show for Leicester this season - and he has been a little erratic - he's shown he can play international level. Cipriani is not as established as Burns has been in Stuart Lancaster's camp.

It is widely thought that Burns and Cipriani were competing with Myler for the third berth in the squad.

Myler, 30, may lack the pyrotechnics with ball in hand of the two men on the outside of the 33-man squad, but his kicking is very solid, he appears to be fairly unflappable as player, he can execute tactics and strategy effectively, does all the basics well and he's not a huge risk-taker.

I think he's a giving player, a facilitator, but a smart one. He's played well over the past year or two and been consistently above average.

What about the centres without Manu?

Jonathan Joseph bursts between Saracens forwards James Johnston and Kelly Brown
Jonathan Joseph (centre) is nowhere near as big as Tuilagi - but he is quick, elusive and skilful

England are missing injured Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi (all 6ft 1in and 17st 9lb of him) - although for how long for remains uncertain - and he has been replaced by Jonathan Joseph.

The Bath centre's confidence has increased this season and his partnership with Kyle Eastmond - who is also in the squad - has flourished.

JJ is re-establishing himself as a prominent out-and-out outside centre and he is a proven try-scorer playing inside England's back three, but he weighs getting on for four stone less than Tuilagi.

Luther Burrell is closer to Tuilagi's size and also gets his fair share of tries but is an inside centre normally, a position currently occupied by Billy Twelvetrees for England.

I'm not sure how many more opportunities Twelvetrees will get, although Tuilagi's absence helps him at the moment.

I think the centre partnership is likely to be Twelvetrees and Burrell, although they might go with Eastmond and Burrell, or even Burrell and Joseph. But I'd be surprised if Saracens 12 Brad Barritt is picked ahead of either Burrell or Eastmond to play at inside centre.

Ashton on the outside

Mike Brown (left) and Chris Ashton pictured after losing to New Zealand in summer 2014
Chris Ashton (right) is facing an uncertain England future after being left out of the squad

Chris Ashton is one of the big-name players who has not made the squad, and selectors don't decide to leave players out at the drop of a hat, especially when their try-scoring record is as brilliant as Ashton's.

Gloucester wing Jonny May has made the cut and he causes uncertainty in a defence - you don't know where he's going to run or where he's going to turn up.

Rokoduguni has been exceptional, while the coaches like Exeter youngster Jack Nowell for a number of reasons and he grew with each game in the Six Nations.

For those on the outside it's a case of 'never say never'. There can be injuries around the corner and as long as Ashton is still scoring tries, he's always going to be there or thereabouts.

As a player you want to be in every squad and every team, so it's going to be disheartening missing out - the best way to answer it is to keep scoring and playing well.

Your response can't be a dip in form. You have to be playing in a way that makes you irresistible.

Is this the World Cup squad then?

Injuries apart, I don't think this squad will change significantly - maybe half a dozen players might play themselves into the set-up before the World Cup, which starts in less than 11 months.

But I imagine those named this week will largely be the players taking England to the World Cup as there's not a huge number of Tests left for players to play themselves into this team.

I don't think we'll see a lot of change in the forwards. There could be in the backline, but either those players in possession will have to play themselves out of the team by poor performances, or the men on the bench will have to play brilliantly to force themselves into the XV.


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