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Home > Sports > News > Reuters > Report

Wilkinson not the main threat, says Jones

Julian Linden in Sydney | November 20, 2003 16:09 IST
Last Updated: November 21, 2003 05:33 IST

Australia coach Eddie Jones says the Wallabies are not even going to try and stop England flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson in Saturday's rugby World Cup final.

Drop goal specialist: Aussies aim to cut off Jonny Wilkinson's supportWilkinson scored all of his team's points in their 24-7 semi-final victory over France last Sunday after racking up 23 points in the quarter-final victory over Wales the previous week.

One Australian newspaper is running a campaign to "stop Jonny", but Jones said the Wallabies will not be treating him any differently from other players.

"We have probably spent less time looking at Wilkinson than any other player," Jones told a news conference on Thursday. "What's significant about England is the players around Wilkinson. They work to get him into position to convert field position into points.

"Certainly we respect him greatly as a player, but it's the other players we have to concentrate on."

Jones said it would be impossible for Australia to get to Wilkinson unless the Wallabies forwards got the better of the English pack and that was more important than targeting the number 10.

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"It's going to depend on the forward contest," Jones said. "You can't get to any five-eighth if your forward pack is going backwards."

"If you can stop the forward pack at the gain line, your defence is on the offensive, then you have got the ability to put the number 10 under pressure."

While Wilkinson, who was named on Tuesday as the International Rugby Players Association's Player of the Year, has been hailed as the saviour of English rugby, Jones dismissed suggestions that England are a one-man team.

The Australian coach said England coach Clive Woodward had developed a team that could change its style of play depending on the conditions. "They can play with width, they can kick, they can maul, they can play a defensive game," he said.

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"In June they were widely criticised for beating New Zealand in Wellington in the rain playing a kicking game, then they came out and played 40 minutes against us [in Melbourne] that was probably the best ball movement we have seen this year in international rugby.

"That's a great achievement and I think every coach hopes their side can play that way."

Jones also laughed off claims that England would stick to a rigid, forward-based game that would kill the final as a spectacle, saying he expected them to mix it up against the Wallabies.

"We are not expecting one way or the other. Clive's painting a picture of boring's not boring, so maybe it's going to be exciting on Saturday.

"With [centre] Mike Tindall there, they have obviously picked a side that are more adept at hitting the line than the other fellow, so we wouldn't be surprised at all if they try to shift the ball around early in the game."

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