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Wilkinson backs Lancaster after Toulon visit

05 January 2012

  • Jonny Wilkinson supports Stuart Lancaster’s England aims after Toulon visit
  • Head Coach’s appreciation of amateur era is crucial to environment says fly half
Former England fly half Jonny Wilkinson carries all the balls during training at Rugby World Cup 2011

Photo: Getty Images

Jonny Wilkinson believes Stuart Lancaster's appreciation of rugby union's amateur era makes him the right man to instil the correct values in a new start for England.

England’s Interim Head Coach names his first Elite Player Squad on Wednesday, January 11 in Leeds and has already given an indication of what he expects from his players – on and off the field – after ruling scrum half Danny Care out of contention after his arrest on suspicion of drink driving.

Lancaster has been visiting former international greats since taking the helm and travelled to Toulon to speak to recently retired pair Wilkinson and lock Simon Shaw earlier this week and gather their views on elite performance.

And England’s record points scorer was left in no doubt that Lancaster's appreciation of the days before rugby union turned professional in 1995 will help to develop the correct disciplines, values and motivations among the squad.

"He is very much aware of that era of guys who had just got used to getting paid to play rugby having spent their lives leaving the office to go and train and then play on a Saturday," the 2003 World Cup-winner told skysports.com.

"Being able to then do that for money gave them an appreciation and an ability to embrace it and make the most of it. I think that added something special to it. For me, it had a massive imprint in terms of creating the values which have since stuck with me.

"These were displayed to me by the England team of that era. I think, certainly, Stuart Lancaster is very aware of the fabulous power that comes with guys who really embrace everything they get.

"They put rugby ahead of everything else and take the team up there with it. I think it is Stuart Lancaster's job to create the culture and the environment to ensure that it is something that follows."

Former England fly half Jonny Wilkinson during kicking practise in Queenstown, New Zealand

Photo: Getty Images

The pre-RBS 6 Nations training camp will be Lancaster’s first opportunity address the squad collectively and he has chosen relocate from Portugal to Leeds for the January 23-27 meet.

The move is part of an overall drive to “reconnect with the grassroots game” and with the RBS 6 Nations opener against Scotland at Murrayfield looming on February 4, Wilkinson added there is lots of work to do ahead of their title defence.

"The next step for England is to work out where they are and work out where they want to be and quickly work out what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. What is helpful and what is not helpful with regards to achieving the bridging of that gap," he said.

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