Jonny Wilkinson ready to lend England coaches a helping hand as Stuart Lancaster offers World Cup winner chance to have his say

Wilkinson revealed that the current England coaching team - who have extended their stay until 2020 - have reached out to the former fly-half

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The Independent Online

Jonny Wilkinson could lend his expertise to England's World Cup bid as he makes the first moves in his coaching career.

The 35-year-old former fly-half, who retired during the summer after a glittering 17-year career, has been invited to cast an eye over Stuart Lancaster's squad as they prepare for next year's tournament on home soil.

Wilkinson, who is currently coaching for one week a month at former club Toulon, insists that just because he could play the game, it does not necessarily mean he can tell others how to do so, but he admits he may take up the invitation.

Speaking at Newcastle racecourse at an event to recruit World Cup volunteers, the England Rugby 2015 ambassador said: "I have spoken to the guys a bit, just because they were saying feel free to come along and have a little chat and see what you think and if there's anything you can add.

 

"I have got plenty of time - and I need plenty of time - to understand where I go next. I'd love to go down there and see what they're doing because whatever they are doing is very, very good.

"I may pop down there and spend a little time at Pennyhill on the sidelines and watch the guys doing what they are doing and enjoy that."

Wilkinson's coaching aspirations are currently no more extensive than his role at Toulon, and thoughts of greater involvement are far from his mind.

He said: "At the moment, it's great to know the guys I am working with, and I can grab them. I know them already from playing with them and I can say, 'Look, let's work on this'. I know what they need and I know their personalities, so I am already a step ahead.

"But it's a tough world and the biggest mistake you can make is thinking that just because you played the game, you know what you are doing."

Lancaster, of course, has far greater responsibilities as he attempts to emulate the feat of Sir Clive Woodward, the coach who led Wilkinson and his team-mates to World Cup glory in 2003.

He and his coaching staff were this week awarded six-year contracts by the RFU, prompting Woodward to suggest that could diminish the hunger and fear factor within the camp.

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Jonny Wilkinson lifts the Heineken Cup for Toulon

However, Wilkinson does not believe that will be the case.

He said: "I don't think these guys would want to be there if it's not working. They are proud professional people and if they are there, the pride and hunger and expectation of themselves is going to be greater than anyone else.

"That's what Mike Catt does, that's what Andy Farrell does, what Graham Rowntree does, and Stuart. They don't accept 'Okay' just because they have now got the right to say, 'Maybe I can guarantee that much money now', or 'I can buy that car' or whatever."

Lancaster's players will go through the sternest of tests in their autumn programme, which kicks off on November 8 with a daunting clash with reigning champions New Zealand at Twickenham.

South Africa, Samoa and Australia will also visit headquarters before the month is out, and Wilkinson believes the opening two fixtures against the All Black and the Springboks will provide a benchmark of just where England are in their preparations.

He said: "New Zealand, what they do is they just do things very, very well over and over again and they wait for you to break, and all teams break.

"It's the team that has suddenly found a way of saying, 'Well actually, we are going to do this back to you, and you are the ones that need to worry about breaking'. They don't worry about breaking because they are the ones who are doing the pressure side.

"South Africa is the other one. I know England haven't really beaten South Africa - that would be a nice monkey to get off the back.

"They have got wingers who attack rucks like madmen, they have got centres who are bigger than back-rowers, and it's that challenge that you face.

"As much as New Zealand have that as well, with South Africa it's in your face and you have got to front up to that. Those two would be big victories."

PA

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