Wilkinson still the key for Johnson’s emerging England

By Sam Rogers
jonny wilkinson

Jonny Wilkinson (Photo: David Howlett)

It was only a point, the smallest margin of victory possible, but a victory it was.

Martin Johnson’s England won in the southern hemisphere for the first time since that wet November night in 2003 and the fact it was against the same opponent made it all the sweeter.

Admittedly England were a tad fortunate as the normally unflappable centre Matt Giteau missed a string of penalties, including one right in front of the posts.

But experience was telling for England as Jonny Wilkinson calmly slotted a penalty to put his team in the lead, and give his side the victory.

Once the mastermind of so many England victories from his iconic No. 4 jersey, Johnson must use this win as a catalyst towards bigger and better things over the next 12 months.

Johnson has at his disposal an exciting mix of youth and experience with stand-in skipper Lewis Moody and a revitalised Jonny Wilkinson starring alongside the likes of Chris Ashton, Ben Foden and the highly impressive Ben Youngs.

In order to have any success in the upcoming autumn internationals, Six Nations and through to the 2011 World Cup, Johnson must turn the winning feeling into a habit rather than a sporadic treat.

If Wilkinson can stay fit and in the form he is in, he could be instrumental to the World Cup dream becoming a reality.

While he will almost certainly feature on a part time basis or as a replacement, his dressing room presence and unerring professionalism will inspire the younger generation.

England face a tough schedule in November, tackling all three southern hemisphere giants as well as the physical Samoans.

This is followed by a Six Nations championship that will provide the last real test before their first pool match of the 2011 World Cup against Argentina on 4th September.

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