Woodward shrugs off Wilkinson doubts - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Woodward shrugs off Wilkinson doubts

By Adrian Warren 11/11/2003 06:31:21 PM Comments (0)

England's star playmaker may be suffering a crisis of confidence, but rugby coach Clive Woodward won't hear a word against Jonny Wilkinson.

Even rival five-eighth Frederic Michalak still considers he will be facing the world's best fly-half when France takes on England in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals on Sunday.

However there's growing concern around the English camp about England's form and in particular that of Wilkinson, who came to Australia with the reputation as the world's best player.

Wilkinson can kick goals with deadly accuracy, but England struggled to beat Wales in Sunday's quarter-final until Mike Catt came on and took on much of the playmaker role from the England No. 10.

"Shot to bits" is how one English journalist described Wilkinson at a press conference with Woodward.

Australia's David Campese said Wilkinson seemed to be playing by method rather than instinct.

"He looks haunted and tired. I'm worried for him," Campese told The Times.

The Independent newspaper's James Lawton said Wilkinson seemed to be having trouble handling the pressure of expectation.

"His goal-kicking apart, it is quite haunting to see," said Lawton.

"He is going through a crisis of confidence," added Simon Barnes, of The Times.

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