June International Tours

Wilkinson to justify England recall

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Jonny Wilkinson says that he is desperate to repay his former team mate Martin Johnson after he showed faith in him by naming him in the England elite squad despite the fly-half’s lack of regular rugby.


Wilkinson has spent most of the last year out injured and plans to relaunch his career in France’s Top 14 with Toulon.


He has not played a competitive game in over 10 months and his selection in Johnson’s Elite squad went directly against the grain as he said that he would be picking players on form.


Wilkinson says that the faith shown in his call-up is a brilliant motivating factor ahead of the challenge of Australia, Argentina and New Zealand in the autumn.


“I am enormously proud to be involved with England. The support of the management is something you cannot put a value on. Wilkinson told the Telegraph.


“It makes it much easier for me,” he said.


“I will be aiming not just to get into the (Toulon) team, but aiming to play the very best rugby I am capable of.


“If that leads to England again, I will do exactly the same. Playing for my country means everything.”


Wilkinson was part of arguably the greatest England team for five years under then then coach Clive Woodward.


Johnson and Wilkinson formed a close relationship in that time and both were there when England won the world cup in 2003 and the grand slam earlier in the year.


Despite being such close team mates Wilkinson insists there is no sentiment involved in their relationship and he is eager to make a success of their new player-coach understanding.


“Johnno holds all the cards. When he was a player, he was a mentor and guiding hand for me.”


Now there is a new respect for him as a manager, which allows a healthy distance,” he told The Times.


“I still value him as a good friend, but I have to earn his respect not by playing with him, but now in the way I play for him.”


Thirty year old Wilkinson is the world’s leading points scorer and has been connected in some way with the England team sicne he made his debut as an 18-year-old against Ireland in 1998.


Injuries have however restricted him to just 70 caps but Wilkinson seems convinced that his latest comeback will be a successful one.


“I had six good years (up until the 2003 World Cup) and have had six interrupted years since.”


“I hope that I can have another stretch of (six) years without having to endure enforced layoffs,” he added.

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