Afghanistan memories drive Rokoduguni

Date published: November 7 2014

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The first Army soldier to play for England since Tim Rodber 15 years ago, Semesa Rokoduguni is not like any international player.

The first Army soldier to play for England since Tim Rodber 15 years ago, Semesa Rokoduguni is not like any international player.

The Fijian-born Bath winger, part of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, was deployed in Afghanistan three years ago.

There he witnessed the horrors of war first-hand when a marine lost both his legs after stepping on an explosive. It’s a memory Rokoduguni carries with him.

“Every single time I join the camp, here or even at Bath, I always think about this stuff,” said Rokoduguni.

“When I think about that incident and how that marine soldier was badly injured, it gives me a boost to make the most of every opportunity because you don’t know what’s going to happen next.

“It could be you. There could be a serious injury on the rugby field so you have to give everything that you have.”

Frequently asked by team-mates at Bath and with England about his time serving the British Army, Rokoduguni isn’t hesitant about outlining the major difference.

“They’ve been asking me questions about the Army and what it’s like being out there,” added Rokoduguni.

“I told them it is pretty similar to what you guys feel – the only difference is that here there is always a next time. Next week you can come back stronger and better.

“Out there in Afghanistan you have to be on top of your drills every single time because if you mess up that can cost someone their life.”

Running out at Twickenham against the All Blacks will be a remarkable moment for Rokoduguni, whose family will be on his mind.

“I’ll have pictures of my son Iiaitia and my family with me before the game,” stated Rokoduguni.

“With that mentality I imagine all the family back at home watching me on the rugby field – if I’m not performing then I’ll let them down.

“This is on my mind – them watching the game and wanting to prove to the world and my family that I can do my best and be the best out there on the rugby field.”

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