Wilkinson dismisses injury fears
June 2, 2010
Jonny Wilkinson was helped from the field in his final game of the season for Toulon © Getty Images
England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson has played down fears that he will miss their forthcoming Tests against Australia with a back injury.
The Toulon pivot was forced from the field in their European Challenge Cup final defeat to Cardiff Blues two weeks ago but has allayed fears that the injury will prevent him from facing the Wallabies on June 12. England kick-off their tour with a game against the Australian Barbarians in Perth on Tuesday and while Wilkinson will sit that meeting out he is eager to get back into full training.
"Injury-wise I'm fine," he said. "In terms of the rest of it that is up to these guys. It's nice to be here with easily enough time to get ready to be on the training field at the same time as everyone else.
"I took a knock in the back in our last game of the season. I've already had a week [without contact work] and I'm being held back by the physios rather than anything else at the moment. I want to get out there, but they are telling me to take a few more days."
England's preparation for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand begins in earnest with this tour and Wilkinson is keen to attend his fourth global showpiece.
"A World Cup, regardless of how many more you have to play, is enough to focus on and if you get the chance is a big, big thing," he said. "To play one more would be enormous and that's the aim."
England manager Martin Johnson is also looking to 2011 and will use this tour to trim his 44-man squad to 32 when he names his Elite Player Squad for next season in July.
"The build-up starts now in terms of World Cup preparation and it gives some guys genuine opportunity to advance themselves," he said. "We have a big squad deliberately, we've brought 44 players, and it's the last time we'll be on tour before the World Cup in 2011.
"If we'd just played the two Test matches and brought 30 players then a certain number of guys wouldn't have played, so this gives guys a genuine opportunity to be involved in the senior group and to try to force into the Test squad. We have to name 32 on July 1 to go into next season so there's a lot of competition for spots.
"We've got a good mix of a squad. There's the core that's been there this year, but also a number of guys with Test match experience who haven't been involved for a while like Charlie Hodgson and David Strettle. There's other younger guys coming in who played on Sunday [against the Barbarians at Twickenham] like Dave Attwood and Jon Golding, and older guys who have played well in the Premiership this year."