Age: 20

Height: 1.89m

Weight: 98kg


NPC team: Auckland

Super 12: Blues

Super 12 games: 13

Test debut: 2003

Test caps: 7

For Jonah Lomu in 1995, read Joe Rokocoko in 2003.

Too big a stretch?

Perhaps, considering the sustained, huge impact Lomu had on the world game for seven years after he launched himself at the cup in South Africa.

But Rokocoko has made a similarly spectacular entrance to the All Blacks.

Having been picked - at least in part because of Lomu's enforced absence - before he had played an NPC game, Rokocoko bagged 11 tries in his first six tests, one of which was the tryless opener against England at the Wellington Cake Tin.

He picked up two against the Welsh, all three against France before collecting three against both Australia and South Africa during the Tri-Nations.

The quietly spoken, Nadi-born Rokocoko chose an unusual place to hear his name read out for that opening All Black squad. His was the only car in the Weymouth Rugby Club carpark in South Auckland.

"It was the ground where all my rugby started and if I was to be an All Black I wanted to be there for that connection.

"I just wanted to be alone. I knew it would be noisy at home if I made it."

The former national secondary schools (three years), under 19, under 21 and sevens representative follows cousin Joeli Vidiri as an All Black, and with his blistering pace he offers, in tandem with Doug Howlett, real speed on both flanks.

He has already overtaken famous All Black wingers Ron Jarden and Bryan Williams in the tryscoring stakes, and great flanker Ian Kirkpatrick, who was regarded as a remarkable tryscorer with 16 in his 39 tests, is just over the horizon.

The All Blacks test tries leader, Christian Cullen, who played 58 tests, is still 35 tries away but if Rokocoko goes even close to maintaining his rate so far, he may have reeled the brilliant fullback in by the time of the next cup.

At that point, if he has done so, think again of that Lomu analogy because Rokocoko will have pushed himself into the ranks of the alltime All Black greats.D.L.

He scored with his first touch this season in Super 12 and added a further four tries in his nine matches. It is that promise the All Black selectors were not prepared to waste in World Cup year. The first test this season is against England in Wellington on June 14.


(this appeared on aug 13, just before final pre-world cup test v Australia at Eden Park)

Joe Rokocoko has yet to play a national provincial championship (NPC) rugby game and can thank his fellow Fijian, Rupeni Caucaunibuca, for his place in the All Blacks side.

Yet, the 20-year-old Rokocoko is zooming up the All Black test try-scoring chart with such speed that men who spent years in the famous black jersey are being left in his dust.

Rokocoko has nailed 11 tries in just six tests, and if he can score on his home track on Saturday night against the Wallabies, he will draw level with Sean Fitzpatrick, the All Blacks test cap record holder who took a mere 92 tests to notch his dozen.

Already Rokocoko has overtaken legendary All Black wings Ron Jarden and Bryan Williams.

Another Fijian-born wing, Bernie Fraser, took 23 tests to score six tries.

Only Marc Ellis can match Rokocoko's strike rate, but six of his 11 tries from eight tests were scored against a weak Japan side.

Even by his own Super 12 standards, where Rokocoko scored six tries in 13 games during his debut season, his test strike rate is phenomenal.

Players such as World Cup winners John Gallagher and Michael Jones are now within Rokocoko's sights, and he is only five adrift of the freakish try-scoring flanker Ian Kirkpatrick, who played 39 tests over 11 seasons.

Rokocoko's amazing feats also indicate the changing nature of rugby - the higher scores and more hectic schedule - but they have come in a year when the All Blacks have had no "soft" targets, depending on how you view Wales.

The All Blacks test tries leader Christian Cullen, who played 58 tests, is still 35 tries away and Cullen's strike rate is impressive over a long stretch. Cullen scored nine tries in 10 tests during his debut 1996 season.

But Rokocoko has got away to the sort of flying start to his international career that makes you wonder if something special is in the making.

Rokocoko broke an ankle playing for the New Zealand Colts in South Africa in June last year, so with no NPC action, he arrived in the Super 12 largely unheralded, although he had a fine junior and sevens career behind him.

While Rokocoko had his moments in the Super 12, there was a bit of hit and hope about his All Blacks selection - which came when the brilliant Caucaunibuca was ruled ineligible for New Zealand after playing sevens for Fiji.

At the start of the international season, it appeared as if this would be an All Black team headed for a World Cup season with only one test class winger - Doug Howlett.

But the flying Rokocoko has answered the call so far.