Semesa Rokoduguni
Semesa Rokoduguni to start against New Zealand in the first of the autumn internationals (Getty)

Semesa Rokoduguni will start at right wing for England in the showdown with New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday 8 November. The All Blacks provide intimidating opposition for the best the sport has to offer but for a man who has been to war and back again, the arrival of the world champions is nothing.

Lance Corporal Rokoduguni of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards sees his call up come amid a spate of injuries that have rocked Stuart Lancaster's plans ahead of the autumn internationals. But the Fiji-born soldier's inclusion remains inherently justified after lighting up the Aviva Premiership for Bath this season.

Still a serving soldier of the British Army, the 27-year-old's rise to prominence makes for a remarkably story. After leaving his home village at the age of 19 in 2007, Rokoduguni was swiftly exposed to the horrific realities of wartime Afghanistan in the Helmand Province, recently recalling his first week on duty where he saw a fellow patrol guard lose both his legs.

"If that had been me, losing both legs and not reaching my full potential, there could have been nothing worse than that," Rokoduguni told BBC Sport. "So when I came back from Afghanistan I had a different view of life: make the best use of every chance you have, because that chance might only come round the once."

Doing battle on the rugby pitch

While he seemed destined for a life in the military – his father is still in the Fijian army while his brother and sister are based in Inverness with the Black Watch – the forces' structure allowed him to pursue a career in both the army and sport.

Chris Robshaw
Semesa Rokoduguni will be part of Chris Robshaw's team against New Zealand (Reuters)

Initial plans to reach the level of sergeant and return home were put on ice as his performances for the Army sevens opened up another door for him. From there, he was soon called into the XVs, marking his introduction with four tries against the RAF in 2011 before adding another three against the Navy a year later at Twickenham.

It was in 2012 when Rokoduguni firmly put himself on the map, when he hauled his side back from 31 down to rescue a draw against Newcastle, courtesy of three tries in front of his current Bath head coach Mike Ford.

"We were 31-0 up and I reckoned we were going to get 80," Ford said. "Then Roko got three tries and it finished 31-31. I made sure we signed him when I moved to Bath. You've just got to put him out there and see if he can step up to the level. He is certainly the form wing with six tries in seven matches for us this season.

"The key is to get him doing the same thing he's doing for England as he is doing for Bath. What you don't do is try to change him into something he is not. He is a freestyle, free-spirit rugby player and that is what makes him exciting."

Taking the learning curve that comes with adjusting to the Premiership in his stride, Rokoduguni's progress has been striking.

His powerful running last term saw him claim the impressive stat of having beaten more defenders than any other player in the league. His six tries in seven games for Bath have been the catalyst behind his club's excellent start to this season.

He has come a long way from the youngster who was not considered good enough for his local team in Fiji. Saturday could see that rise continue to new heights.