Rugby World Cup
Jonny Wilkinson backs George Ford to lead England's Rugby World Cup charge
PA Sport
September 7, 2015
Jonny Wilkinson
Jonny Wilkinson© Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Jonny Wilkinson has thrown his weight behind George Ford's bid to lead England's World Cup charge at fly-half.

England's 2003 World Cup hero Wilkinson expects head coach Stuart Lancaster to start Bath playmaker Ford ahead of Saracens' Owen Farrell at the fast-approaching global showdown. England open their Pool A account by facing Fiji at Twickenham on Friday week, with the country's all-time leading points-scorer hailing Ford's contribution.

"The great thing about it is if you play George Ford he will grow and grow and grow in that shirt over a period of time," said Wilkinson, speaking at the launch of ITV's World Cup coverage.

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"But the same thing exactly goes for Owen Farrell.

"Ford's secure at the moment though I think, and they will go into the World Cup really happy with what they've got."

Sir Clive Woodward masterminded England's 2003 World Cup triumph and believes Lancaster's crop will benefit hugely from home advantage.

"Someone's got to come to Twickenham and beat England," said Woodward. "England had a strut about them on Saturday.

"We know they play well at Twickenham, and we saw with the Olympic Games what home advantage can do. Playing at home is a really big deal for England.

"This next few weeks will change their lives, one way or the other.

"Never, ever will they have a chance as good as this World Cup to do something special."

Former Sale wing Jason Robinson claimed a try in England's extra-time victory over Australia in the 2003 final and the ex-Rugby League star believes England's back-three enter this year's competition in good shape. Anthony Watson and Jonny May both crossed in Saturday's 21-13 victory over Ireland at Twickenham.

Robinson believes full-back Mike Brown allows the wing threats to flourish on the front foot.

"Watson's getting better with every game, he's got great feet," said Robinson. "It's all about consistent performance and he's starting to do just that now.

"In the tight games you need someone who can turn them, and you look at some of the tries he's scored and he's doing that.

"I was very impressed with Jonny May at the weekend. Some of the tries he's scored have been fantastic but his mind can wander. In that game he was great though, and when you go into the World Cup you need guys who will focus all the time.

"Mike Brown brings a lot of stability to that back-three.

"He's not the fastest full-back in the world but somehow he keeps beating defenders. So I'm a lot happier now after that Ireland game."

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