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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jonny Wilkinson is back, and better than ever

Jonny Wilkinson is back, and better than ever

He's back. Yes, as predicted, Jonny Wilkinson will be making his return for England when they host the Wallabies in a couple of weeks time at Twickenham.

Martin Johnson has had a torred time when it comes to selection as so many of his first choice players are out with injuries. Ironically, it's that man Wilkinson who's fitter than ever.

He candidly says that he is now better than ever. After watching his progression and form with Toulon, it's difficult to disagree with the star flyhalf who's battled injury throughout his career.

"If you could transport the me now straight into the situations of 2001 and 2003, what would I have done? I think the me now would have been handy," he says.

"I am undoubtedly better. There is no way that the 2001 version would have been able to deal with the 2007 World Cup experience. I don't know how I would have dealt with it. I wouldn't have had the intelligence or the experience.

"I was suited to 2001 or 2003 because I was surrounded by people like Mike Catt, Bracken or Dawson, Lawrence Dallaglio, Will Greenwood, Martin Johnson, pillars all around me," he added.

"I was doing things because I was getting a load of help from them. But that person in 2007, or here in France? Not a chance. I am way better now because I understand what is going on.

"Back then it was like a headache trying to work out 100 things at once. It is almost like you are dissecting and composing, all the time. That much mental strain with the pressure of playing at a high level when I was young, without all that help, wouldn't have combined.

"Now I am processing it without too much effort. That is why, if asked if I will ever be back to where I was in 2003, if the exact same situations ever played out I think I would go all right."

For a man who is so critical of his own performances to rate himself so highly now, shows that we're in for a treat. If Wilko can stay fit, the November Tests are set to quite possibly be the defining point in a career that has been such a roller-coaster ride for one of the most talented flyhalfs of all time.

Will fate intervene yet again, or will Jonny be around in 2011, playing the best rugby of his life? Time will tell, but for now, Wilkinson is here to stay.

Forwards: S Armitage (London Irish), Barnes (Bath), Bell (Bath), Blaze (Leicester), Borthwick (Saracens, capt), Chuter (Leicester), Crane (Leicester), Croft (Leicester), L Deacon (Leicester), Hartley (Northampton), Haskell (Stade Francais), Kay (Leicester), Lawes (Northampton), Moody (Leicester), Payne (Wasps), Thompson (Brive), Wilson (Bath), Worsley (Wasps).

Backs: Banahan (Bath), Care (Harlequins), Cueto (Sale), Foden (Northampton), Geraghty (Northampton), Goode (Brive), Hipkiss (Leicester), Hodgson (London Irish), Monye (Harlequins), Strettle (Harlequins), Tait (Sale), Tindall (Gloucester), Wigglesworth (Sale), Wilkinson (Toulon).

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