Wilko’s centenary waltz

JONNY WILKINSON says he is honoured to become a part of history tomorrow when England celebrate 100 years of rugby at Twickenham with a crunch Six Nations opener with Wales.

Wilkinson, 30, has been the jewel in England’s crown since making his international debut in 1998 and has gone on to score a world record 1,125 Test points in his 73 caps.

But the Toulon fly-half is looking to extend that record further by leading the Red and Whites to a first Six Nations success in seven years.

Wilkinson’s England will wear special commemorative shirts for the centenary match, which has an extra special twist with England and Wales tied on 53 wins going into this special weekend.
And Wilkinson, for one, is honoured to be a part of the proceedings.

“I feel massively proud and privileged to be a part of that journey,” he said. “It makes you realise when you hear things like that just what you are playing for, who you are playing for, and what you are representing. It brings it into perspective to think about the guys who played 100 years ago and what it meant to them, but this game just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

Wilkinson has warned England, however, not to expect any sentiment from the Welsh, admitting Warren Gatland’s men are used to the big-game atmosphere.

“Wales have got a great deal of experience in a lot of areas,” Wilkinson added. “Players like Stephen Jones and
Shane Williams are used to playing big games week-in, week-out and you must bring that experience and make it count in the little encounters you face during the game.”

England captain Steve Borthwick, meanwhile, will etch his own name into the record books when he leads the side out for a 17th consecutive international tomorrow – second only to the record set by Will Carling of 44 Tests.

“Captaining England is a great privilege for me,” the Saracens lock said, “When Johnno asked me to captain the side it was a great honour.”