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Argentina's Rugby World Cup hero Nicolas Sanchez inspired by Jonny Wilkinson

Published 21/10/2015

Argentina fly-half Nicolas Sanchez has been in sparkling form during the Rugby World Cup
Argentina fly-half Nicolas Sanchez has been in sparkling form during the Rugby World Cup

Jonny Wilkinson may just get his own back on Matt Giteau this weekend if he can inspire Nicolas Sanchez to boot Australia out of the Rugby World Cup.

Giteau vowed to land a huge guilt-trip on Wilkinson after picking his former Toulon team-mate's brains helped Australia dump hosts England out of the World Cup at the pool stages.

Toulon centre Giteau pledged "I'll make him feel guilty" for giving away England's trade secrets, then guided Australia to 33-13 victory over Stuart Lancaster's men.

Wilkinson could yet claim the last laugh however, after Argentina fly-half Sanchez revealed England's World Cup-winner helped him hone his metronomic goal-kicking at Toulon last season.

"For me if I had to choose the best player in rugby of all time I would name Wilkinson, he's a legend," said Sanchez.

"I tried to take as much advantage as possible when I was there with him in Toulon and he was coaching us, and probably he's one of the best players I've ever seen.

"With Wilkinson we worked a lot on skills, especially kicking.

"He would focus hugely on details, but he would also talk in great length about the mentality you need to succeed as a kicker.

"That's very, very important, and it was something he told us to spend a lot of time focusing on."

Wilkinson retired in 2014 after guiding Toulon to two straight Heineken Cup triumphs, before moving into the back-room staff as a part-time skills coach.

England's most celebrated star continued to drive Toulon's standards as the Cote d'Azur powerhouses claimed an unprecedented third consecutive European crown last term.

Australia playmaker Giteau was central to all three of Toulon's European successes, and showed no mercy in capitalising on his proximity to Wilkinson to gain the inside-track on England ahead of this year's World Cup.

Before the World Cup, Sanchez was Argentina's biggest superstar the world had hardly heard of.

Now the ice-cool fly-half is the toast of the tournament, preparing to light up Super Rugby when joining Argentina's new franchise next season.

Sanchez excelled in three years at Bordeaux before joining Toulon as an injury replacement signing to cover a hamstring tear for Frederic Michalak.

Toulon wanted to keep hold of the 26-year-old, but for the first time in a long time, billionaire owner Mourad Boudjellal could not get his way.

Sanchez could not resist the lure of playing Super Rugby in his homeland, and will return to Argentina after the World Cup as a global superstar.

In just 13 appearances Sanchez won over so many fans at Toulon that the Stade Mayol supporters have compiled a host of tribute videos on YouTube.

Sanchez sits five points behind Scotland's Greig Laidlaw as the World Cup's second-highest points-scorer, with a haul of 74 from Argentina's stunning campaign.

The steely-eyed marksman could easily swipe the golden boot if the Pumas extend their already-sparkling campaign still further.

Gearing up for a tough examination against Australia and one-time Toulon team-mate Giteau, Sanchez also paid tribute to Pumas centre Juan Martin Hernandez.

"The Magician" Hernandez has eased the attacking burden on Sanchez, with Argentina's fly-half hugely grateful for the support.

"Matt Giteau is an excellent player, I didn't have a lot of chances to play with him because he was injured most of the time I was at Toulon," said Sanchez.

"But he's a great player, he can run an attack, he makes good decisions and is aggressive in defence.

"He's a key player for them and will challenge us.

"Juan is a hero in the team, he means a lot to the team, he's a great leader for us.

"He's a second fly-half as well, playing from 12, so he simplifies a lot of the things we have to do.

"And that is a great help to me."

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