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Eddie Jones believes Joe Cokanasiga must learn how to overcome his second-season struggles after watching Wales target the young England wing in an effort to remove the danger that he poses.
Cokanasiga enjoyed a try-scoring display in the victory over Wales a fortnight ago, but found himself facing a barrage of high balls and kicks in behind from Dan Biggar and Gareth Davies as the Wales duo spotted a perceived weakness out wide last Saturday, while more often than not the giant Bath wing found himself facing two defenders instead of one.
The 21-year-old enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence after scoring tries in his first two international appearances last autumn that has given him a healthy ratio of one try every other match, but Jones believes the real hard work begins now as teams start to work him out.
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“He’s going through that tough period at the moment,” Jones said after naming Cokanasiga in the starting line-up to face Ireland today. “They picked on him at the weekend and he has got to find a way to get in the game.
“This is a great opportunity on Saturday to show that he can because the potential of the kid is enormous. When he has got the ball in his hands and when he gets his high ball catching right, he is absolutely devastating. These are the games he needs to learn how to fight his way through test rugby.
“He is one of those kids who comes into test rugby and first couple of games, he is magic. Someone has blown some dust on him. Everything is good. Then teams work you out. It is like test cricket. Team gets you out a certain way and then every time you go into bat, they’re looking to get you out the same way. Test rugby is the same. That is the big difference between test and domestic rugby. When people see a weakness, they go at you and keep going at you. Then the development of the player is, ‘right, how do I fix this? And how do I get around it.’ Joe is going through that process at the moment, so it’s good for him.”
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