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Wilkinson delight at England return

30 October 2009

  • Fly Half describes England squad as “welcoming and supportive and challenging”
  • Wilkinson believes playing in France has improved his game
Jonny Wilkinson runs with the ball during an England training session held at Pennyhill Park

Photo: Getty Images

A relaxed Jonny Wilkinson is enjoying the “amazing feeling” of being back in the England camp in the build-up to the first Investec Challenge international against Australia.

The Toulon fly half is in a position to make his first England appearance since March 2008 when the side face the Wallabies at Twickenham on November 7.

Since his summer switch from Newcastle Falcons to the south of France, Wilkinson has appeared in 10 of Toulon’s 12 games, scoring 95 points and picking up the Top 14 Player of the Month award for September.

With that run of games behind him, he is happy with his form and delighted to be back in the welcoming environment of England’s training camp.

"As a new boy in a foreign culture, you've quickly got to grasp how to get the best out of the players around you, how to link things, sense where a game is going and why, feel the energy around you and harness it,” said Wilkinson.

“It's been a blessing really, being there, and I want to translate what I've learned there into this England environment. It's the sort of thing I've always been striving for, to get a second-nature, instinctive feel for moments that might help turn a game.

“I feel I'm moving towards it now. As always, I'm concentrating on being the best I can be on any given day, wherever I happen to be playing.

“To be back here in these familiar surroundings, in an England environment as welcoming and supportive and challenging as this one, is an amazing feeling."

Wilkinson has 70 caps for his country, six more for the British & Irish Lions and a world record 1,099 points in international rugby in a career punctuated by injury since his extra-time drop goal completed England’s victory in the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

Wisdom and Experience

Jonny Wilkinson in action for Toulon

Photo: Getty Images

Speaking at the squad’s training base in Surrey, the 30-year-old considers himself an older and wiser player now, but still approaches the game with “absolutely everything”.

"We've had the 'It's all right, Jonny's back' thing before. It seemed to end rather miserably that time. It's a funny story, but the injuries don't affect me and my decision-making.

"You hit every game with absolutely everything you've got and keep doing that until the final whistle.

"My perspective of my own game is one where I just try to use a bit more of my wisdom from the experiences I've had.

"What hasn't changed as I've got older is that I want to make the most of every opportunity. I don't like to leave anything in the changing room for a rainy day. I don't like to save stuff for next week.

"But at the same time, my definition of giving it everything I've got has changed a little bit. My younger outlook was running headlong into everything.

"Now I want to use the same energy but by the end of the game I want to make sure I'm in the right position and doing the right things."