JONNY WILKINSON says England’s defeat by Scotland at Murrayfield two years ago was one of the most painful experiences of his career.
It was the afternoon when the fly-half broke the world record for international points, but that was about all he had to celebrate as he was hauled off 11 minutes from the end in a shock 15-9 defeat.
To add to his misery, Wilkinson was then dropped for only the second time in his 12-year international career with then coach Brian Ashton opting for rising star Danny Cipriani.
But although Wilkinson is still in possession of the No10 shirt with Cipriani in international exile, the 30-year-old says that miserable afternoon in Edinburgh will live long in the memory.
“The most painful lessons are often the most powerful and for me that is definitely the case,” the Toulon star said. “That was a big experience and it has done the world of good for me. I have spent much of the time since then injured on the sidelines but that doesn’t change the fact that you have to take heed of those lessons.
“The game a couple of years ago was a massive learning curve and it taught us that you need to go out there to play. I have learned it is all very well to know it on paper but I have got to put it into practice on the field.”
Wilkinson knows just what to expect on Saturday from a Scotland side coached by his former international mentor, Andy Robinson, and warns England are in for a rough ride.
“He [Robinson] played the way he coaches. There is no facade,” he added. “He was physical, he was intense, he was skilful and he mixed it every time he went out there. As a coach he does exactly the same thing but this time he is able to really impart a huge amount of that rugby brain and experience over many years and that is why he is a good man for the job.
“We need to go in with a level of inner strength that is capable of dealing with everything on the field – and off the field.”