SPORTS

Wacokecoke Flying For Bath

As the biggest player on the field, it was hard to understand why rugby was not just about running through people and scoring tries but that is something George Wacokecoke
22 Sep 2014 09:49
Wacokecoke Flying For Bath
Jone Bilitaki.. Photo: Wati Talebula

As the biggest player on the field, it was hard to understand why rugby was not just about running through people and scoring tries but that is something George Wacokecoke has had to learn.

Born in Fiji, Wacokecoke moved, at the age of six,  to Ipswich where his dad, a member of the British Army, was based.

Growing up in the rugby-loving nation, the youngster was used to running around with a ball in his hands but it was only at the age of 10 that he started playing for his middle school in Needham Market.

With his big Pacific Islander frame, no one stood in his way and games were often a one-man show. But it all changed when, two years later, he was picked up by Ipswich’s prestigious St Joseph’s College as well as Northampton’s academy.

Playing at a higher level, things were not as easy for Wacokecoke and he had to learn new tricks to further his development.

“Playing at public school level was fun because I was quite big for my age,” he told The Rugby Paper. “My teammates would just give me the ball and I’d score but going to St Joseph’s and Northampton was different. They made me do things I’d never done or didn’t want to do to be honest like going into the rucks.

“Working with coaches like Graham Richards, Tim Grimsby and Simon Sinclair helped me develop into the player I am today. I had to learn to be smart about things. I used to think I could just run around or over people every time but I’m not going to be the biggest all the time and there’s more to rugby than that.

“I was pretty young so I tried to palm it off at first but they drilled it into my head and I changed my game as I got older.”

While at St Joseph’s, Wacokecoke won the U16s tournament at Rosslyn Park in 2012 as well as being picked for England U17s the same year – scoring tries against both France and Scotland.

Last season, he was part of the successful Northampton academy that won the U18s league but he was then released by the Saints and joined Bath this summer.

Linking up with fellow Fijian Semesa Rokoduguni, he was involved in the Premiership 7s Series before making his senior debut at the Rec against the Scarlets in pre-season.

“I had a great time at Northampton but with the number of young wingers they have in their squad there wasn’t going to be many opportunities,” he said.

“It was tough to take but it turned out well. The first few weeks have been really enjoyable at Bath. Semesa took me under his wing since I arrived and we get along well.

“Making my debut against the Scarlets at the Rec was great. I wasn’t expecting so many people to turn up for a pre-season game but it was packed. It made me quite nervous at first but I got used to it as the game went on.

“I have a lot of work to do but I’d love to be involved with the first team again this season and maybe be involved in the LV=Cup.”

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