Wilkinson sees emerging greatness

PA Sport
Jonny Wilkinson sees real potential in the current England side
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Jonny Wilkinson sees real potential in the current England side

Jonny Wilkinson believes England are capable of emulating the legendary World Cup-winning team of 2003 as they head into the QBE autumn internationals.

Wilkinson, who has no regrets over his decision to retire from England duty, sees a number of parallels between Stuart Lancaster's current side and the team built by Sir Clive Woodward. England open their autumn campaign against Fiji on November 10 before tackling Australia, South Africa and New Zealand on successive Saturdays at Twickenham.

It is a daunting task but Wilkinson was impressed by the resolve England showed on the summer tour of South Africa by bouncing back from two defeats to draw the third Test. He said: "I believe England can beat these teams. There are signs of toughness there now, as we saw in South Africa in the summer. If you manage to do that now, you're in 2003 territory."

However, England's highest points-scorer added: "What England need to offer to these big teams when they arrive in the autumn is the message that they can keep battering away but it's not going to happen."

When it comes to the mental toughness required to succeed, Wilkinson sees a great deal of himself in the 21-year-old Saracens and England fly-half Owen Farrell.

"What I do see is that kind of constant battle going on, the sort of inner aggression that comes from battling with yourself," Wilkinson said.

"It is about setting the bar ahead of what the team wants from him. For me, that battle fell in the zone between what the team needed and what I wanted.

"My team-mates might be saying that I should be pleased but I was sat in the dressing room mulling over everything. I see a bit of that in Owen.

"That is something for him to harness because it becomes a power that gives you a massive advantage over other people."

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