Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jonny will give Autumn internationals a good Twicking

Jonny will give Aussies a good Twicking
ENGLAND'S coaches are backing a reborn Jonny Wilkinson to terrify Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.

Wilkinson, back to his best since his move to Toulon, is making his first appearance at HQ since coming on as a sub against Ireland in March 2008 in Six Nations.

He is the man the Wallabies fear most - just the memories of his rugby World Cup final performance against them in 2003 and quarter-final impact in 2007, sends shudders through Aussie bones.

England attack coach Brian Smith said: "Jonny is a real factor in this game. He is lethal as a points-scorer, he is a general and his distribution is phenomenal.

"He is one good reason why Pommie bashing in Australia is a thing of the past.

"What England achieved there six years ago earned enormous respect throughout the Aussie nation."

And defence coach Mike Ford added: "Jonny is the best tackler in the squad - and that includes our back-row. In his desire to cover every position on the field, the lad has very few betters.

"Jonny's technique is first-class, as is his dedication and professionalism."

Meanwhile, manager Martin Johnson insists there will be no repeat of the 'yellow peril' that undermined England's ambitions last season.

His side had no fewer than 11 players sin-binned during their three autumn Tests and five in the Six Nations.

But Johnson is convinced having RFU referee Wayne Barnes working with his squad daily will help eradicate their problems at the contact area, where most offences occurred.

Johnson said: "I really hope our yellow card problems are behind us because it is harder to win games with only 14 players.

"It's all about adapting to the referee and sticking to our game-plan.

"I have already spoken with Saturday's ref Bryce Lawrence and we discussed various areas where I sought some clarification. But what we discussed remains confidential."

Fly-half Wilkinson, 30, and the world-record Test points scorer with 1,032, will partner Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care in a new-look England.

One that has been forged by a combination of injuries and Johnson's desire to develop the next generation.

Johnson signalled his blueprint last night when he sent 10 members of his 32-man Elite Player Squad back to their clubs for domestic weekend duties.

Out go George Chuter, Mathew Tait, Nick Kennedy, David Barnes, Ben Foden, David Strettle, Ben Kay, Richard Wigglesworth, Steffon Armitage and Joe Worsley.

The remaining 22, however, face a serious challenge at Twickenham.

Johnson warned: "Australia have beaten world champions South Africa this year and they come to us battle-hardened after the Tri-Nations now in Six Nations.

"I have no doubts about the severity of our task because Australia have some new young bloods on board and huge self-belief.

"We took it easy in training last week because of the growing injury situation.

"But you cannot afford that luxury in the week building up to an international. You have to get the balance right which is why we have trained with intensity and speed.

"I delayed naming the team by 24 hours to allow some players extra time to recover.

"Dylan Hartley, for example, tweaked a hamstring and while I'm sure he'll be fine, it's important to be 100 per cent sure."

Johnson lost 13 of his original EPS 32 to injury, including Harry Ellis, Phil Vickery, Delon Armitage, Andrew Sheridan and Riki Flutey.

Which is why a new-look England will carry a nation's hopes as they run out in front of 82,000 at Twickenham on Saturday.

AUSTRALIA tuned up for the clash with a 36-5 win at Guinness Premiership outfit Gloucester last night.

But they were given a thorough examination by an unheralded Cherry and Whites side.

First-half tries by centres Ryan Cross and Tyrone Smith put the Wallabies on their way.

Then wing Drew Mitchell's late double and a Quade Cooper solo score finished the home side off.

Aussie head coach Robbie Deans, who has seen his side lose five of their last six Tests, promised the Wallabies will take the battle to England up front this weekend.

He said: "Gloucester showed a lot of spirit but we won the game at the breakdown, where it was a ferocious contest. The game against England will be just the same, so that was a very satisfactory exercise for us."

Freddie Burns scored Gloucester's only points with a 25th-minute try.

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