Wilkinson tips England for World Cup glory
August 1, 2014
Jonny Wilkinson retired from rugby this summer after winning the Top 14 and Heineken Cup with Toulon © Getty Images
Jonny Wilkinson has backed England to go all the way when they host the World Cup next year.
Wilkinson, who kicked the winning drop goal in the 2003 final, praised the way England have gone back to basics under head coach Stuart Lancaster. He said the team's work in both defence and attack gives them a great chance of lifting the trophy on home turf.
"The England team have done a great thing in going back to the foundation of the game," Wilkinson told South Africa's SuperSport. "They've looked at the values; they looked at the core principles of what makes a good team. They've solidified it at the base and now they're building on it. They're adding detail on top of detail on top of detail and the players are ready to accept it.
"The players are really understanding the structure of what they're trying to do. It looks like they're very professional. The defence is solid and they never looked stressed and when they are they come straight back. In attack they've got great shape and great options every time they have the ball."
"I'd really like to think they will be in a semi-final, with every chance of going all the way,"
Wilkinson also tipped South Africa for at least a semi-final spot and said the physicality of the Springboks' game strikes fear into opponents.
"South Africa have a great foundation for what they are trying to do," Wilkinson said. "They also have a great identity of who they are. That identity precedes them wherever they go. Their physicality, their desire, their pride and integrity puts teams on the back-foot before the whistle even goes.
"They pace at which they are now playing too is starting to drive opposition out of their comfort zones, forcing them to make mistakes under pressure. It allows them to get ahead in games and allows them to push forward and win comfortably.
"When they do find themselves in difficulty, which they did against Wales recently, they then find a way of coming back. It's ultimately the sign of a great team.
"I'd like to think again that South Africa will be one of those teams in the semi-finals."
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