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Wallabies still in awe of Wilkinson

08/06/2010 05:33:42 PM Comments (0)

Wallabies halfback Will Genia is adamant Jonny Wilkinson has lost none of the powers that helped propel England to the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

Wilkinson sank the Wallabies almost single-handedly in the final in Sydney, with his extra-time drop goal sealing a 20-17 win for England that will be forever etched into rugby folklore.

The 31-year-old five-eighth has endured a horror run of injuries since that moment, with knee, shoulder, groin, ankle, back, ribs, appendix and even kidney problems keeping him out of action at various times.

But Genia revealed he had kept a close eye on Wilkinson's progress at French club Toulon over the past season and said the 78-Test veteran was back to his dynamic best.

"I think he's like a Dan Carter," Genia said.

"Any side he plays in they play better so I definitely still rate him up there as one of the best.

"I watched a fair bit of him playing for Toulon and he directs the team around on the field really well with his passing and kicking game."

Wallabies five-eighth Quade Cooper grew up idolising Wilkinson and said it would be a dream to play against his childhood hero in Saturday's Test in Perth.

"I think every kid based a lot of their game around him," Cooper said.

"He had a very strong defensive game and his kicking game was probably the best in world rugby.

"So I think a lot of kids growing up wanted to have his ability and really try to be as technical as him.

"He's a special player Jonny Wilkinson and if I could be half as good as him I'm sure I'd be on the right track.

"Jonny's been a childhood idol of mine and to play against him at No.10 (on Saturday) would be a great challenge and one I look forward to."

Genia missed last week's 49-3 win over Fiji with a knee injury but said he was back to full fitness and ready to resume against England.

"It's coming along really well. I'm ahead of schedule," Genia said.

"I trained fully with the team yesterday and today so I'll definitely be available for selection this week.

"I feel fit and ready. I wouldn't put my hand up for selection if I didn't think I was ready to go."

Genia and Cooper formed an awesome halfback combination at Queensland last season and are almost certain to be paired together for the first time at Test level against England on Saturday.

Cooper showed glimpses of his spectacular passing and running game against Fiji but revealed he would unleash even more flair once he became more comfortable in the role.

"I was just playing within myself," Cooper said.

"It was the first hit-out, I didn't want to go out there and do too much.

"I've just got to try to work out combinations and work everyone into the game.

"You don't go out there and try to do those things, they just come as you go.

"The more we can play together as a team the more those things can come out."

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