ENGLAND stalwart Jonny Wilkinson may not play a single minute of Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations showdown with France but the record-breaking fly-half still believes he can help Martin Johnson’s men triumph.
The stellar form of Wilkinson’s old protege Toby Flood is likely to mean the 2003 World Cup winner (right) starts on the bench for a match that is already being billed as a championship decider.
But the Toulon No10, now 31, insists he can still make a positive contribution in his new role as understudy, whether as a late replacement or even just offering guidance to Flood on the training pitch.
“The last time I was in this position [of second choice] was at the start of my career and it’s a real challenge to begin again and to build myself and to grow to try and get my place back in the team,” said Wilkinson. “I’ve taken great inspiration from the likes of Mike Catt and Paul Grayson. I remember being in the team when these guys weren’t and they helped me. I’m trying to do that now.”
Whether it is by dint of his input or not, Flood’s kicking has been flawless so far this year, with all 11 attempts converted.
Wilkinson (inset) added: “It’s every player’s job to understand that what they do on the field as a replacement or how they train and the mentality they bring has an affect on those around them.
the build up.”
England boss Martin Johnson will name his team today, with erstwhile captain Lewis Moody set to be omitted from the 22 after failing to prove his fitness after injury.