Jonny Wilkinson on the England fly-half debate
'Owen Farrell is the future of English rugby'
June 21, 2012
Jonny Wilkinson alongside Southwark Tigers coach Vernon Neve-Dunn © Gillette
Toby Flood started the second Test against the Boks last weekend and has got the nod for this weekend's game with Farrell having to be content with a spot amongst the replacements. But with the debate still raging over just who is England's first choice fly-half, Wilkinson has backed Farrell to bounce back from this setback and channel the disappointment into improving as a player.
"It's a very tricky decision for Lancaster to make," Wilkinson told ESPN. "I know Floody very well so I know what he's capable of - he's a world class player. He's a friend and I've played alongside him and also sat on the bench with him many times. I know that he's a phenomenal talent and he'll always have that so he's a quality player to have in the mix.
"But then in regards to Owen Farrell, I have nothing but respect for the guy. He's young but he's shown from a young age that he's capable of dealing with immense responsibility and pressure at that age which is almost unheard of. From an English perspective it's an incredible ability and one that must be respected and continued to nurture because you have someone there that is the future of English rugby.
"We keep on talking about that future, but the next breed is the 'Owen Farrell' breed. We want people who are mentally tough enough to step forward and say 'yes, there is pressure, but I am good enough'. He's already done that to an extent during the last Six Nations as he had a huge amount to do with anything that England did well.
"Him being left out for the second Test alters his path's direction a bit but it's a good one in my opinion. He's always learning and he needs to make the best of these situations as every situation is, believe me, there for him to be amazing. He's already set that path where he will be something very very special and this here is the sport turning around on him and saying 'this is possibly what you need right now as it will help you to get better and better'.
"A chance to reflect and determine where you go next is valuable and he will analyse ways to improve and it will make him a better player. If we get more out of Owen Farrell then the whole of England will benefit."
To see Jonny Wilkinson paying tribute to club coach Vernon Neve-Dunn as a part of Gillette's Great Start Campaign visit facebook.com/GilletteUK
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.