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Wilkinson needs to be good to satisfy critics

Jonny Wilkinson has shrugged off the critics and vowed to keep his cool in the face of mounting criticism.

England's iconic fly-half was named in an unchanged team for Saturday's RBS Six Nations match against Ireland at Twickenham.

But, despite back-to-back victories, for the second week running England manager Martin Johnson was forced to launch a passionate defence of the number 10 who is world rugby's record points scorer, but whose decision-making ability has been questioned by former team-mates, including World Cup scrum-half partner Matt Dawson.

Johnson, who ignored a clamour to bring in Toby Flood at number 10, said: “I find the amount of criticism that has gone Jonny's way a bit surprising and disappointing.”

Wilkinson, however, responded: “You play for a team cause. If you took everything personally we'd all be quivering wrecks on the floor.”

It is Wilkinson’s ability to lead the three-quarter line and play running rugby which is in question, elements of his game which Dawson criticised when he revealed it was himself, Will Greenwood and Lawrence Dallaglio who made the majority of the plays in the past.

Former England captain Johnson, who lifted the Webb Ellis trophy in 2003, added with tongue in cheek: “I didn't make any decisions either, it was all Matt Dawson!”

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