England have turned to Jonny Wilkinson, the most experienced player at the Rugby World Cup, to steer their campaign.
spending the bulk of the past couple of years unavailable through
injury or as understudy to Toby Flood, Wilkinson, the man who kicked
the extra-time drop goal to beat Australia in the 2003 World Cup final,
is back as the first choice No.10 for England.
Martin Johnson named Wilkinson on Thursday in England’s starting side
to face Argentina in their World Cup opener in Dunedin on Saturday.
his fourth World Cup, Wilkinson appears to have to overtaken Flood in
the pecking order through his performances during the August warm-up
“Jonny’s been in great form and has just got his nose in front but that might change next week,” Johnson said.
“We don’t have a drop-off between players in positions and all 30 could start.”
started for England in their final World Cup warm-up against Ireland in
Dublin last month and produced a vintage display in the 20-9 win.
five-eighth landed all four of his goalkicks as England’s strong pack
overpowered Ireland at the breakdown and created the platform for
Wilkinson to call the shots.
Delon Armitage will start a Test on the wing for the first time against Argentina after Mark Cueto was ruled out through injury.
Armitage, normally a full-back, impressed while coming off the bench to score a try after replacing Cueto in Dublin.
Easter returns at No.8 after missing the Ireland fixture with a calf
strain while 2003 World Cup winning centre Mike Tindall captains the
side in the absence of flanker Lewis Moody, sidelined with a
longstanding knee injury.
James Haskell moves to openside
flanker, in place of Hendre Fourie who played against Ireland but was
not selected in the World Cup squad.
Samoa-born centre Manu Tuilagi, who has scored two tries in his two Tests so far, continues alongside Tindall in midfield.
The Pumas named an experienced team on Tuesday but England have won 11 of their 15 Tests against the South Americans.
Argentina are renowned for their forward power but Johnson said there was more to their game than a powerful pack.
“They do what they do very well but they’ve got more dimensions to them than is sometimes made out in the media.
are a dangerous running side, they come at you through forwards but put
you under pressure with their kicks as well. It’s a full-on Test
against a team that finished third in the world last time.”
team: Ben Foden, Chris Ashton, Manu Tuilagi, Mike Tindall (capt), Delon
Armitage, Jonny Wilkinson, Richard Wigglesworth, Nick Easter, James
Haskell, Tom Croft, Courtney Lawes, Louis Deacon, Dan Cole, Steve
Thompson, Andrew Sheridan. Res: Dylan Hartley, Matt Stevens, Tom
Palmer, Tom Wood, Ben Youngs, Toby Flood, Matt Banahan