No excuses from Wilkinson
September 10, 2011
Jonny Wilkinson had an off day with the boot in his side's narrow win over Argentina © Getty Images
Jonny Wilkinson has revealed that he was as mystified as everyone else by his uncharacteristically dreadful goal-kicking in Engalnd's 13-9 win over Argentina in Dunedin on Saturday.
The usually deadly Toulon fly-half missed five consecutive penalties during the game as he ended with just three successful strikes on goal to his name.
The fact that Pumas fly-half Felipe Contepomi and fullback Martin Rodriguez combined to miss six shots of their own led many to conclude that perhaps the new Rugby World Cup ball was to blame - even though countries have had access to it since the November internationals of last year.
Wilkinson, though, was reluctant to offer up any excuses for what he feels was the worst kicking performance of his international career.
"I'm not going to apportion any kind of blame other than that on myself," the 2003 World Cup winner said. "I was the one kicking the ball and when I hit them I felt I was hitting them very, very well. That made it hard for me to understand and correct what was going on.
"There were couple out there I would have thought were not great kicks but the rest of them I was pretty happy with.
"I kept looking at what I was doing each time and I was happy with it. So in a way it's quite difficult to compound it and move on to the next one.
"It's the same for everyone, it's a case of going back to the drawing board and looking at how we can get better."
Shortly after missing his fifth successive strike on goal, England earned themselves another penalty. Instead of instructing Wilkinson to try for the three points, captain Mike Tindall instead told his fly-half to put the ball into the corner. That gamble paid off as Ben Youngs sniped over for the game's decisive score.
Wilkinson explained: "Some of the bigger shots out there it was worth saying to Mike 'let's put it in the corner', then there other times when he wanted me to have a shot and I said 'let's go for it'.
"As a kicker you don't ever look at it and say I can't kick this. You always feel you'll get the next one. The disappointing thing for me was that I would have liked to have scored more points to help the guys out, for your country and your team.
"But the only way you let people down is if you let things get to you and it affects the rest of your game. If you're missing kicks you can't allow the rest to go out the window and become useless."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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