To add to the controversy over their all-black change kit, England have made Jonny Wilkinson's future a grey area. Post-World Cup, we are told, players based abroad will only be selected in "exceptional circumstances".
After contributing 13 points to this win over Wales, and a controlling hand in one of his side's two tries, Wilkinson stated again his intention that if he never graces Twickenham again, it will not be a decision made by him. The 32-year-old hero of England's glory year of 2003 intends to see out his playing days with Toulon. If the doors to HQ are slammed shut it will not go down well with his adoring support.
Wilkinson has been anointed with a David Beckham-style status: cheered lovingly on the strength of past deeds. That he swung both feet to good effect here, dropping two goals in passing 1,200 Test points, merely confirmed the legitimacy of his longevity, even if New Zealand's Dan Carter stayed top of the points list with 15 against Australia yesterday.
"Jonny doesn't have to prove anything to me as to whether he can start a Test match," said Martin Johnson, the England team manager who has selected Leicester's Toby Flood at fly-half for every Test since Wilkinson started against Scotland in March 2010. "There's never been a doubt about Jonny. Just because we don't start him, it doesn't mean we doubt him. He's a world-class No 10."
Lewis Moody, England's captain yesterday, will have a scan tomorrow after pranging his right knee. Alex Corbisiero, the 22-year-old London Irish prop going against the grain of many England colleagues by having an impressive 2011, looked uncomfortable as he was helped from the field in the final 10 minutes. Who else will fall in this month's phoney war?
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