November 28, 2022

Giant winger Joe Cokanasiga came off the bench for Bath Rugby in the club’s 31-30 defeat to the Barbarians
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Bath Rugby winger Joe Cokanasiga has rejoined the 36-man England squad to prepare to face the Springboks on Saturday having been sent home ‘injured’ just last week.
Despite England announcing last Wednesday that the giant winger had been ruled out of consideration to face the All Blacks on Saturday due to an ankle injury, Cokanasiga played a day later coming off the bench in Bath’s 30-31 defeat to the Barbarians at the Recreation Ground.
Without going into too many details, Bath head of rugby Johann van Graan fielded questions over the apparent difference in opinion over Cokanasiga’s fitness.
READ MORE: Johann van Graan provides update as Bath Rugby suffer pair of lock injuries against the Barbarians
Van Graan said: “He was released back to us and was available for the game. His ankle recovered and we selected him. He trained on Friday and we cleared him to play and he scored a nice try on the right-hand side corner.”
After England’s willingness to play Cokanasiga hurt during the 2019 Rugby World Cup caused the winger significant long term damage, and opened up a rift between his club and country, perhaps the national side’s medical staff were erring on the side of caution.
Without Cokanasiga, England drew 25-25 for New Zealand in no small part thanks to a brace of tries from Bath tighthead Will Stuart who came off the bench to make a remarkable impression on the match having not played a game for a month after suffering a knee injury against Saracens in October.
Stuart became the first prop to score two tries for England in a match as his pair of short-range blasts got the national side back into the contest at Twickenham.
Van Graan said: “He recovered really well and worked really hard on his fitness and had two massive moments. I think it was 25-6 and then three tries for England, two from our tighthead prop. I am really glad for him, I thought he carried really well and he made a really big difference for England.”
Stuart looks set to feature against the Springboks this weekend as England look to end the Autumn Nation Series on a high against the World Cup winners and then will return for club duty against Harlequins next week to provide a huge boost to the Blue, Black and White front row.
England last faced South Africa in a closely contested 27-26 win in November 2021.
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