Wilko issues warning to England
September 2, 2011
Wilkinson warms up for the start of his fourth World Cup with a training session in Auckland © Getty Images
World Cup veteran Jonny Wilkinson has urged England to hit the ground running when they kick off their latest campaign against Argentina in Dunedin next Saturday.
Wilkinson, who is preparing for his fourth appearance at the sport's showpiece event, has warned his team-mates that three months of intense preparation will mean little if they fail to deliver against the Pumas at the state-of-the-art Forsyth Barr Stadium.
"We are in a good position but we are under no illusions we need to be on the mark from the first kick-off and we have to make the most of the time before our first game," said Wilkinson, a World Cup winner with England in 2003.
"That includes putting together the calls, all the rhythm and connection between each other. You have to make the most of that time. Every second counts as it has done for the last four years but now is when it matters. Form is a good thing to have behind you but it only counts if you make it count."
Wilkinson, who looks set to retain the No.10 shirt having steered England past Ireland in their final World Cup warm-up, understands the recipe for success better than most having appeared in the last two tournament finales and experience tells him that his side will need to be flexible in their approach.
"You have to have an open mind and adapt to the path that opens up in front of you," said Wilkinson. "That is the hardest bit. Four years ago the tournament became one of enormous pressure around field position, around those sort of things. You don't know that at the start.
"Nothing is decided until you get on the field and you get shown the best way to try and win the game. It is up to both teams to try and adapt to that. It is a combination of the ruthless edge mixed with being smart and switched on, to find the best way to win before the opposition does."
Meanwhile, Mark Cueto confirmed he has recovered from the back injury which forced him off the field early in England's Aviva Stadium victory. The problem was affecting Cueto's acceleration and he knew he had to come off after being unable to sprint clear having picked off an interception.
But the injury settled down during the long flight and he intended on taking a full part in training today. "It was a funny little injury. It was my back but it referred down to my quad," said Cueto. "It was switching off the power in my quad. It was getting better through last week and I trained Thursday and Friday and although I wasn't 100%, I thought it would have been right by Saturday with the adrenalin.
"When I caught the interception I put my foot down to go and I just hobbled along. At that point I realised I wasn't doing anybody any favours. It was a shame to come off, although it was a great result for the boys. It was the right thing to do and not damage it any more. It has settled down really quickly. If anything the plane journey out here actually did it a lot of good."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
As Ray McLoughlin prepares to celebrate his 75th birthday, Huw Richards pays tribute to the man and the selectors who had the wisdom to bring him into the Ireland fold
John Taylor argues the world's best XVs players must be given a chance to play in the Olympics to increase the appeal of the game
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament