Returning Wilkinson wary of Wallabies - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Returning Wilkinson wary of Wallabies

By Julian Guyer 06/11/2009 04:21:56 PM Comments (0)

Jonny Wilkinson's return to England duty was always going to be a high-profile event but, as far as he is concerned, the fact it is against Australia makes it all the more special.

"I could have woken up this morning not knowing where I was, but I knew from how I felt that there was something big going on this weekend," said fly-half Wilkinson.

"It's always special because they're always up there at the top of the world game.

"When I think about Australia, I think of a certain professionalism, and a major strength in that tactically they can work better than any other team.

"You have to be 100 per cent on your toes. As soon as you're not, they'll pull you apart."

Matches against the Wallabies have marked key staging posts in Wilkinson's injury-plagued career.

On his full debut, back in 1998, he was a member of a novice England team thrashed 76-0 in Brisbane.

But Wilkinson survived and two years later was the starting stand-off for the British and Irish Lions against Australia.

And then, in a performance that guaranteed him sporting immortality, Wilkinson landed the winning drop-goal with just seconds to spare in extra-time as England beat Australia in the 2003 World Cup final in Sydney.

However, that match was the precursor to a dreadful run of injuries, 13 in total, that have blighted his career for the past six years.

Although Wilkinson did stay fit long enough to kick all of England's points when they beat Australia 12-10 in the quarter-finals of the 2007 World Cup.

Saturday's match sees Wilkinson, rugby union's leading all-time international points scorer, back on England duty for the first time since March 2008.

In October last year he dislocated his left knee cap and was sidelined for eight months, leading many to wonder if he would ever make a return to professional rugby, let alone play for England again.

But a pre-season move from Newcastle to French club Toulon appears to have rejuvenated Wilkinson.

Australia coach Robbie Deans has spent much of the past week telling anyone who will listen that the Wallabies must beware the impact 30-year-old will have upon an injury-hit England side.

"He essentially won England the World Cup, so inevitably there will be a lot of expectation," Deans said. "We believe England will be more dangerous with Jonny."

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