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Lancaster wants Wilkinson knowledge


Jonny Wilkinson

Jonny Wilkinson

Jonny Wilkinson

England head coach Stuart Lancaster hopes he can tap into Jonny Wilkinson's "vast knowledge" of international rugby after the celebrated fly-half announced his Test match retirement.

Wilkinson has called time on an international career that harvested 91 England caps, six British and Irish Lions Test appearances and a total of 1,246 points.

And Lancaster, who was appointed last week as England's interim boss for the RBS 6 Nations Championship that starts in February, led the tributes to Wilkinson, saying: "He will continue to do great things with Toulon, and I would like to go and see him in France to learn from his vast knowledge and experience of 13 years at the very top of the international game."

Wilkinson, 32, also played in four World Cups, including the 2003 campaign Down Under when his drop-goal 17 seconds from the end of extra time broke Australian hearts in Sydney and meant England had conquered planet rugby.

"Jonny has had a fantastic international career which has spanned four World Cups and 91 caps, and he ranks as one of England's greatest ever players," Lancaster added.

"He will, of course, be remembered for that drop-goal. But he is more than that, a model sportsman - down to earth and hard-working - who has never stopped trying to be the best that he can."

Outside of his prodigious points-scoring ability, Wilkinson's obsessive eye for detail and a relentless work ethic assumed almost legendary status within the sport. And the the former Newcastle number 10, who will continue playing for wealthy French club Toulon, also repeatedly showed a never-say die attitude during his darkest days.

At one stage of his career post-2003 World Cup, Wilkinson played barely 15 hours' competitive rugby in 18 months as a succession of injuries - including shoulder trouble, knee ligament damage, a lacerated kidney and a hernia - laid him low.

But he kept bouncing back, underlining his status as arguably the most-celebrated England player in rugby history through numerous match-winning displays.

Wilkinson made a lengthy retirement announcement on his official website www.jonnywilkinson.com, and it comes less than a month before Lancaster reveals England's elite player squad for 2012.