England drop Rokoduguni for Pumas clash

All Black Fekitoa to sit out France clash after a one-week ban

Image Credit: AFP
England’s wing Semesa Rokoduguni (right) was not included in a 24-man squad announced Tuesday by coach Eddie Jones.
Gulf News

London: Semesa Rokoduguni has been dropped by England for Saturday’s international with Argentina, even though he scored two tries against Fiji at Twickenham last weekend.

Fiji-born wing Rokoduguni, in his first Test in two years, crossed in each half as England thrashed the Pacific islanders 58-15 last Saturday.

But he was not included in a 24-man squad announced on Tuesday by coach Eddie Jones.

It is the second time Rokoduguni has been dropped immediately after making a Test appearance, the first after he made his debut against New Zealand in 2014.

Jones, speaking before Rokoduguni’s international recall, said: “I want Roko to play 30-40 Tests for England and to do that I’ve got to make sure that what happened to him last time doesn’t happen again.

“I’ve got to manage that player well. I want him to be right to play.”

Alex Goode was also omitted, with Mike Brown set to resume at fullback after missing out against Fiji.

Meanwhile, lock George Kruis, who missed the wins over South Africa and Fiji at the start of the Old Mutual Wealth Series, is set to feature against the Pumas after recovering quicker than expected from ankle surgery.

Jones will have to omit one more player when he names his 23-strong matchday squad on Thursday, with one of the five back-rows currently included set to be dropped.

England have won 12 Tests in succession, including all 11 under Australian coach Jones.

Malakai Fekitoa will, meanwhile, miss New Zealand’s match against France in Paris on Saturday after being given a one-week ban on Tuesday for a dangerous tackle.

Fekitoa was cited after being sin-binned for a high tackle on Simon Zebo during the world champions’ 21-9 win over Ireland in Dublin last Saturday.

Although shown a yellow card by South African referee Jaco Peyper, the centre was still able to score two of New Zealand’s three tries as they gained revenge for a 40-29 defeat by Ireland — the Irish’s first win over the All Blacks — in Chicago a fortnight earlier.

There were those who thought Fekitoa should have been sent off but at a disciplinary hearing before a three-man panel in London chaired by Antony Davies (England), alongside Derek Bevan (Wales) and John Doubleday (England), Fekitoa accepted he had committed an act of foul play but argued that it would not have warranted a red card.

But the three-man committee, after viewing video evidence and listening to representations, issued a statement saying: “Mr Fekitoa’s actions would have warranted a red card, albeit that he had acted recklessly rather than intentionally.”

Having concluded the offence fell within the low-end entry point of World Rugby’s scale of sanctions, which normally carries a two-week ban, the committee decided to impose a one-week ban on account of Fekitoa’s “immediate acknowledgement of wrongdoing, his previous clean disciplinary record and his good conduct at the hearing”.

Fekitoa, who is free to resume playing on Monday, November 28, two days after the France match, does have the right of appeal.

New Zealand flanker Sam Cane was also cited, for a head-high tackle on Robbie Henshaw that saw the centre carried off on a stretcher in the 11th minute and led to him being ruled out of Ireland’s match at home to Australia this Saturday with concussion.

Unlike Fekitoa, Cane received no card at all from Peyper.

But the same panel that banned Fekitoa ruled that Cane’s actions had been “accidental” and that “he had not therefore committed an act of foul play”.

Cane is free to continue playing but is unlikely to face France because of an ankle injury.

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