- Key man David Wilson prepared to give his all for England this June
- 125kg tight-head prop has started last three England Tests
For so long a member of the supporting cast for England’s big hits, David Wilson remains unassuming and composed despite his elevation into the role of one of Stuart Lancaster’s most crucial troops in New Zealand this June.
Only 10 of the Bath Rugby props 34 Test caps are starts but the hulking tight head's stock has risen through proficient performances from the outset in England’s last three victories in the 2014 RBS 6 Nations.
With Lions prop Dan Cole facing an extended spell on the sidelines after an operation on his neck, Wilson is a critical cog in England’s powerful, dynamic pack – to the extent that head coach Stuart Lancaster commented that of all those playing in end of season finals, Wilson was the main man he wanted to emerge unscathed.
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With a cautious smile not quite befitting of someone weighing in at 125kg, Wilson said: “I didn’t know he said that, thanks very much.
“Obviously, it’s unfortunate for Dan Cole, I’m sure he’ll be back soon and I wish him all the best of luck. I’m really enjoying it, I’ve always wanted to play for England, I’ve always wanted to start games and to be here and play in three Tests against the All Blacks, that’s something you dream about as a kid.
“I’m massively honoured to be a key part of this squad and to have started the last few games. You lay it on the line and give everything for your teammates, your country, the fans and everybody involved.”
An abrasive presence in the loose and dominant force in the tight, you know Wilson is sincere when he talks about pushing himself to the limit. The 29 year-old produced one of the most industrious displays of the Six Nations in England’s intense 13-10 victory over Ireland at Twickenham, hitting 28 rucks and making 10 tackles after just 47 minutes of club rugby since returning from a calf injury.
Looking back on those victories over Ireland, Wales and Italy, Wilson recalls the speed of the England’s game, which he believes they must replicate to stand a chance inagainst the All Blacks. The first Test of the three-match series gets under way at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday (8:35am BST).
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“I think we set down a bit of marker, they were very quick games which is what we’ll need over the summer. We are quietly confident in our ability and the way we play and what we are doing. But you come up against New Zealand and you understand that they’re a quality side.
“You want to be in the game where you can win it or lose it after 70-75 minutes. They’re going to be good over here, they’ve got a brilliant record but I’m sure we can give them a good run for their money.
“Our physicality in the pack is certainly one of our strengths, but their strength is their speed round the field with the speed of the Super 15. We’re aware of that but we’ve put together a fit squad who can compete with them.”
England’s last victory in New Zealand came in 2003, when a display of dogged determination and unshakable belief snatched a 15-13 win in Wellington. England Forwards Coach Graham Rowntree was part of the pack which subdued the All Blacks with six men and Wilson said similar levels of character and commitment will be required 14 years later.
Understated as ever, he added: “Graham talked about putting it all on the line, going for it, clinging on for 80 minutes. He said it was hard work, work rate, graft, leadership – all those things are going to be important.
“That’s what it’s all about, if you can beat New Zealand in their own back yard, you can be fairly happy with yourself. We respect what a big test it is, but we’re looking forward to it.”