Wilkinson warns of Argentina threat

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The Independent Online

Jonny Wilkinson has warned England that life will not get any easier when Argentina arrive at Twickenham this weekend.

England slid to an 18-9 defeat in their opening autumn international against Australia on Saturday despite Wilkinson's best efforts.

The Toulon fly-half marked his return to Test rugby by scoring all England's points and produced a heroic defensive performance which belied his injury record.

Wilkinson believes England will need to improve in "every single area" if they are to bounce back with a victory over the Pumas.

"Argentina are an incredibly physical team - massively fit, fast, powerful and hugely passionate and skilful," he said. "They are a team which surprise you week in and week out."

Wilkinson, 30, should know, considering he plays each week at Toulon alongside Argentinian stars such as Juan Fernandez Lobbe, Felipe Contepomi and Esteban Lozada.

"You watch these guys train and think they are world-class players and you think 'thank God they are on my side'," said Wilkinson.

"Unfortunately that will not be the case next week."

England split their summer Test series 1-1 with Argentina and will be anxious to get the better of the Pumas this weekend - because the next time they lock horns will be at the 2011 World Cup.

With the exceptions of Wilkinson, Lewis Moody and Tom Croft, England struggled to match the intensity of a battle-hardened but hardly brilliant Australia.

England were missing seven guaranteed first-teamers, including the influential Phil Vickery, but manager Martin Johnson has always refused to blame injuries.

England enjoyed 60% of the possession. They were on the right side of a 12-5 penalty count. They built the platform to get the job done and were the better side in an encouraging first half.

But that winning platform crumbled after the interval. England did not possess the technique under pressure, nor the wit and creativity to hurt Australia when the Wallabies started to punch holes in their defence.

Australia scored in each half through Will Genia and Adam Ashley-Cooper but they should have had four tries, such was their second-half dominance.

"We put ourselves in a position to go and win this game and we didn't. We are tremendously disappointed by that," said captain Steve Borthwick.

"We need to make sure we get ourselves in that position again next week and push on.

"We can look at what Australia did very closely. We can learn from all these experiences about what we can improve on."

England have slipped back to eighth in the world and Johnson has now overseen seven defeats in 12 Test matches.

Borthwick added: "We have come a long way as a squad. I believe wholeheartedly in what Martin Johnson is creating with his coaching team and this squad of players.

"Everybody is excited with what we can do. That culture, we believe, will go on to win rugby matches.

"There were huge positives to take from this game. There was a massive work ethic from all the guys."