Wilkinson decision baffles Australia
Former Australia centre Tim Horan has warned England manager Martin Johnson he will live to regret not selecting Jonny Wilkinson for tomorrow's Test in Sydney.
Wilkinson will be on the bench as England return to the scene of their Rugby World Cup triumph, with Toby Flood to start at fly-half and Shontayne Hape retained at inside centre.
Horan described Johnson's selections as "confusing" and questioned why Wilkinson was even brought on the tour if England had not planned to start with him.
"I don't know what England coach Martin Johnson is trying to achieve in leaving Jonny Wilkinson on the bench again," Horan wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald.
"Johnson should have picked the man who broke Australian hearts in the 2003 World Cup final and it's a decision he's likely to regret.
"Wilkinson has the ability to ignite this England backline.
"He has a presence and a passing game that would lift them for sure, as well as the ability to provide field position via his boot and capitalise on those territory gains by accumulating points.
"Johnson's decision, and those he's made earlier on this tour, are confusing.
"Jonny hasn't played in either touring match against the Australian Barbarians and he got five minutes in the first Test last weekend.
"What was the point in even bringing him out?
"If they were going to put him in cotton wool, or simply overlook him, then England might as well have left him at home."
The Wallabies had expected Wilkinson to start in both Tests but Johnson has been keen to run the rule over Hape at inside centre and to increase Flood's experience.
Wilkinson lost his place after a disappointing Six Nations campaign and at one stage Johnson told the Australian media to "get over" their fixation with 2003.
But Horan, man of the tournament in the Wallabies' 1999 World Cup triumph, would have based his selection on Wilkinson's form for Toulon and started him alongside Flood.
"I don't base my opinion on what Jonny did seven years ago," said Horan.
"Shontayne Hape will wear the 12 jersey alongside Flood. This is the same player who I think made three tackles in the first Test, missed a crucial one when Luke Burgess put Quade Cooper across for a try and, from memory, ran the ball once. It's fair to say he didn't show a lot.
"So if you were the England coach, wouldn't you pick Wilkinson ahead of a rookie like Shontayne Hape?"
Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando
First full-length look is finally here
World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'
"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star
Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses
Brooklyn Beckham poses in Arsenal training kit following rumours of signing for the Gunners
Manchester United transfer news and rumours: David De Gea could leave for FREE; £38m for Marquinhos; £37m bid for Mats Hummels;
Transfer news LIVE: Manchester United to make £37m Mats Hummels bid; Inter plan Yaya Toure move; Shola Ameobi joins Crystal Palace
Australian Open 2015: Novak Djokovic vs Stan Wawrinka match preview
Danny Ings to Liverpool: The Reds attempt to steal a march on rivals in race to sign Burnley striker
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures