Wednesday, October 10, 2007
In years gone by Jonny Wilkinson has developed a reputation as possibly the hardest hitting number ten in world rugby. Memories of Luke McAllister running straight over Irish stand-off Ronan O'Gara in the 2006 NZL vs IRE Test create a rather delicate image for fly-halves. That simply isn't the case with Wilko, however.
Wilkinson has put in massive hits on numerous occasions, and at times actually had shoulder problems from it. Have a look at this huge hit on Emile N'tamack or this great tackle on Justin Bishop .
Wallaby captain Stirling Mortlock is by no means a small centre. He's probably one of the biggest at international level actually. In saturdays Quarter Final 'upset', Jonny Wilkinson equals him in the challenge, stopping him in his tracks thus defusing a potential Australian counter-attack. It is somewhat of a rarity seeing a centre run at a flyhalf and not making it over the gain-line.
It would've taken a brave man to put money on England pulling off a victory over the Wallabies, but with Jonny's predatory-like defensive work, accurate goal kicking, and a dominant pack of gorillas up front, the England vs France Semi Final could be more even than most people are forecasting, with the World Champions looking like they're coming back to form at the right time.
Jonny has had a bit of trouble with this World Cup ball, and has complained that they're using replicas on the practice field. But in the big games, surely he would still be the man you would bet your house on when it comes to taking vital kicks or slotting a winning drop.
Final Score in the quarter final: 12-10