Joe Cokanasiga is in contention to return to action for Bath Rugby before the end of the 2019/20 season director of rugby Stuart Hopper confirmed today.
Hooper will be hoping his side’s season is still going come October 24 when the Gallagher Premiership grand final is scheduled to be played, but it looks like Bath fans will not have to wait that long to see their talismanic winger in action.
The Blue, Black and White are in red hot form having won six of their seven games since rugby returned in August from the five month lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
That has seen the club climb the table up to third with two rounds of the regular season remaining.
However winger Cokanasiga has not featured for his club this season, despite it being the longest one in history, after injuring his knee while away with England on international duty last autumn at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
To make matters worse the winger continued to train on the damaged knee throughout the course of the tournament in Japan and played with it heavily strapped while scoring two tries against the USA in his only appearance of the tournament.
The result of which was Cokanasiga not only damaged his knee but caused secondary problems to his lower body and back which was overcompensating for the weakened area of his body as the 6ft 3in 18 and half stone back did more than 20km a week of running on his injured limped.
Bath Rugby’s medical team were furious with the RFU for the condition Cokanasiga returned to the club in, meaning he was unable to train and carry out basic athletic functions like squatting.
In January the 22-year-old had his knee operated on and has been recovering ever since.
Now the powerful wide man is on the verge of making his long awaited comeback and reading between the lines it sounds like he could even feature on Tuesday night when Bath host derby rivals Gloucester Rugby at The Rec in front of 1,000 fans for the first time since the resumption of the league.
Cokanasiga last featured for Bath on the final day of the 2018/19 season when he scored a try as the Blue, Black and White snatched a famous late victory at Leicester Tigers to secure the final European Heineken Champions Cup place.
And despite having winger Ruaridh McConnochie in red hot form at the moment, Cokanasiga’s return would certainly give the Bath squad an extra boost as they look to make the Premiership final for the first time since 2015 when they lost 16-28 to Saracens.
Having the nine cap international back on the pitch will effectively feel like the club have made a new world class signing with the Fijian-born winger nominated for the 2019 World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year award before getting injured.
Discussing Cokanasiga, Hooper kept his cards typically close to his chest but said: “He is nearly available.
“And the update is he is close to being available.
“Obviously with the extended week we have got more training and we have got a couple more days to confirm the team and there will be a conversation with myself and the coaches tonight and tomorrow and we will make a call.
Pushed again for a little more clarity on the timeline of Cokanasiga’s return to the fold, Hopper said: “He will be in contention to play before the end of the season.”
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