- Wilkinson hopes squad give better account in Dublin
- We want to show that we’re there to play – Wilkinson
England’s final Rugby World Cup warm up match against Ireland is the perfect opportunity to display the kind of mentality that they hope to take into the tournament, according to fly half Jonny Wilkinson.
With the RBS 6 Nations defeat against Ireland still raw for 32-year-old Wilkinson, he feels that while revenge isn’t on the agenda, England will want to give a much better account of themselves in Dublin.
“We’ll be looking to represent ourselves a damn sight better than what we did last time out,” said the RC Toulon No.10. “We weren’t quite there when we played them in the 6 Nations, we went behind early on and it was hard to come back from that.
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“We didn’t get the space or the time to breath, and when you’re looking for quick points it’s not going to happen. We want to show that we’re there to play, and there to compete, and that’s the same mentality we’ll be taking towards the world cup.”
England lead the all-time stats against Ireland, with 70 wins to Ireland's 45, and while Martin Johnson’s men will be looking to make that 71 with a win at the Aviva Stadium, Wilkinson accepts that it’s also a chance to tweak a few things ahead of the World Cup opener against Argentina on September 10.
He added: “It’s a great opportunity to learn a bit more about ourselves, and to test ourselves against quality opposition. Even the slightest slip in concentration can cost you – it’s going to be tough, and it’s going to be a big occasion and that sums up the world cup as well."
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Wilkinson will play alongside an as yet untried England midfield axis that see’s Mike Tindall inside him at 12 and the explosive Manu Tuilagi starting just his second Test match at 13, something England’s all-time record points scorer is relishing.
“The first time I played with Mike was at U18 level with England and we’ve played a lot of rugby together since then – sometimes with me at 12, and him at 13, and then me at 10 and him at 12 – so it will be a great occasion. Mike’s a fabulous player and a great leader, and Manu’s a player who wants the ball and wants to play with it and that’s what people want to see.”
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