Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Auckland picked up their first win of the season against Northland at the Kerikeri Domain on the weekend, with a supposedly out of sorts Joe Rokocoko finding his feet as he scored two tries, and played a significant part in two others.
The two try performance saved him from the axe as All Blacks coach Graham Henry was far from happy with his form of late, having scored just one Test try in 10 outings.
"It was a big selection. Siti (Sivivatu) is obviously cemented in there but Joe's played one good test in South Africa and one poor test match," Henry says.
"If we were selecting it prior to Saturday he probably wouldn't have got in, but he played very well for Auckland, as good as I've seen him play for a long time.
"He scored a couple of tries and had a big hand in the other two, so he sort of saved his bacon, really."
Speculation was rife that Corey Jane would have been brought in as a safer option on the wing, with Rokocoko himself even admitting that he expected to be dropped.
"I have to admit I did have a shocker (against the Springboks)," he said.
Against Northland though, the 44 Test try veteran was particularly impressive as he took his opportunity with both hands, gaining both confidence and the work rate that had been missing of late.
"The change of scenery was good. I felt really relaxed," he said. "It came down to not thinking about things too much and just having a go."
Henry has since shown faith in him and Rokocoko has been retained in the All Blacks lineup to face the Wallabies for the Bledisloe Cup, earning the Fijian-born flyer his 58th Test cap.
Joe Rokocoko tribute
Final score: 32-13 to Auckland