Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby Six Nations

I don't take it personally - Wilkinson

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 6 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. I think it has gone over the top."

Wilkinson, however, revealed he was dealing with the pressure in his usual fashion. Part intense and part philosophical.

He said: "You play for a team cause. If you took everything personally we'd all be quivering wrecks on the floor.

"You have to get on. You put everything into everything you do and that has to be enough. Give everything to every decision, every play to get the best result. You can't ask for any more.

"Everything traces back to the number 10 because the call stops there. It doesn't make for comfortable living all the time but the pressure I put myself under is more than enough, believe me."

Wilkinson slotted over a late drop goal to give England an unimpressive 17-12 victory against Italy in Rome, but uncharacteristically he missed three of six kicks at goal.

He said: "I'm as unsatisfied as I've ever been (with my form). In every game I've ever played I've never been satisfied. I'm at the same level of dissatisfaction as I've been throughout my entire career.

"I will probably resign in however many years probably the most unsatisfied man in the world but I'm happy to go that way because it keeps me driving. I don't mind coming off the field saying I could have done that better. Give me long enough and I'd find 100 things for you. It seems to be about me with what's going on in the paper but it's not. It's about can we go forward and have a big performance at the weekend."


From Belfast Telegraph