Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Memories Hold No Fear for Jonny

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Memories Hold No Fear for Jonny

Article excerpt


ENGLAND'S Jonny Wilkinson will make his Lions debut against Queensland in Brisbane on Saturday in front of the fans who witnessed his biggest rugby humiliation.

Wilkinson, then a fresh-faced teenager, was in the England team hammered 76-0 by Australia in Brisbane. Three years later he returns as the prospective Lions Test outside-half.

Far from erasing that dire match from his memory, Wilkinson has chosen to make it a motivating factor in his record-breaking career.

The man with the deadliest boot in international rugby said: "That England game is a huge part of why things have gone in a particular direction.

I am never shy about talking about that defeat and if I hadn't played things could have been very different.

"I may not have been given this opportunity with the Lions, and I feel pressure to do the Lions the proud.

"I want to do myself and the team justice. I did my best in that England match but sometimes things are out of your control and you end up on the losing side.

"This time it will be very different and this is a very different team I am part of."

Wilkinson has recovered from neck and groin injuries to claim a place in what looks like the potential Lions Test line-up. The team includes captain Martin Johnson, who is also making his tour debut in this third match of a schedule which has already produced two wins, 199 points and 31 tries. Only Lawrence Dallaglio and Mike Catt have yet to play and they are pencilled in against Australia A next week.

Lions coach Graham Henry denies this is the shadow Test side but it will shock everyone if the team that lines up against Australia on 30 June is markedly different.

Captain Johnson was given extra time to recover following Leicester's European triumph and now he gets the chance to go head-to-head with Australian captain, John Eales, in charge of Queensland. …

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