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Rupert Wyman 26th Feb 2010 - 16:45

Wilkinson to show the new Jonny who is boss

There has been much criticism about Jonny Wilkinson in the press following England's poor performance in Italy last time out. Pundits think that the younger Toby Flood will offer a greater attacking dimension from the fly half position and while that may be true for me Wilkinson is still the better option.

The 2003 World Cup hero is still the best prepared number 10 in the world and very few can match his kicking and who is to say that Flood will all of a sudden make England's backs play an attacking style of rugby rather than continuously kicking the ball back to the opposition.

As frustrating as it can be to watch England, and Wilkinson standing too flat doesn't help the situation, they still have talented players and on their day can give anyone in the world a game. The talent in the XV along with their recent record against Ireland means one has to fancy the 19/20 about England making it three wins in a row in this year's Six Nations, rather than the evens about Ireland.

Ireland's cause is not helped by their demoralising defeat in Paris last time out. Declan Kidney's side may be the Grand Slam champions but they looked nothing like deserving of that status as the French, who admittedly are the outstanding side in this year's competition, completely dominated.

Kidney, hoping to lift Ireland, has selected the youth of Jonathan Sexton at fly-half instead of the vast experience that Ronan O'Gara offers. Sexton brings an extra dimension to Ireland's game as O'Gara, as good as he has been for the Boys in Green is becoming a bit predictable.

Ireland will be hoping that the Leinster fly-half is able to release those outside him as if Ireland play an expansive game there is no doubting that they have the tools to do severe damage to England. However, there has been little sign of their best attacking rugby in their opening two matches of this year's championship.

England will also be happy playing at Twickenham, as it may no longer be the fortress it was not so long ago, it is still an intimidating place and there is no doubting that Martin Johnson's side perform better at home than away from HQ.

Martin Johnson will be hoping that Mark Cueto recovers from his stomach bug as otherwise he has a selection headache as he won't want to move Matthew Tait from the centres, Ben Foden is not a natural winger and the only other winger in the squad is the uncapped Chris Ashton.

Tait scored the sole try against Italy and I fancy the pacy outside centre to get another one this week, it is 10/3 that he obliges.

The funny thing about England's performance in Rome was that when they attacked they looked dangerous, so Ireland will have to be wary of the threat that the England backs can pose.

Despite the talented backs in both sides the match will come down to which fly-half kicks the most penalties and for me there is only one winner in this contest because as talented as Sexton is, Wilkinson is still superior and will be creating positive headlines this time around.



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