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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 October 2007, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Laporte wary of Wilkinson threat
France coach Bernard Laporte
Laporte feels France must stop Wilkinson to see off England
France coach Bernard Laporte has singled out Jonny Wilkinson as the England dangerman ahead of their World Cup semi-final clash on Saturday.

The fly-half missed England's first two group games through injury but has been instrumental in his side's resurgence, including the upset win over Australia.

Laporte said: "He has come back well. He is the motor of the team.

"England do not perform as well when he is not there. He gives them confidence and plays flat out."

Although England's results - wins against Tonga, Samoa and Australia with Wilkinson in the team, a lacklustre win over USA and a hammering by South Africa without him - seem to back that up, the number 10 has struggled with his kicking.

With the usually metronomic Wilkinson's current success rate running at about 60%, there has been concern in some quarters that England may struggle to turn pressure into points.

Speaking on BBC 5live, England forward Martin Corry dismissed any fears over Wilkinson's form, saying: "He's a class act - there is no doubting that.


"What epitomises him for me is when he had taken a heavy bang against Australia and needed a bit of treatment, he got up to take a penalty on the halfway line.

"He's not bothered about his stats, we're not bothered about his stats - he's still going for the difficult kicks."

The two teams will be named on Wednesday, with France's expected at about 0900 BST and England's at 1400.

And Laporte, who saw his side start the World Cup with defeat to Argentina in the opening game, says France will not be underestimating their semi-final opponents despite England's mixed form leading into the game.

He said: "We have had the same run-up to the game as them. They have gained in confidence.

"They made a recovery when they played Australia, and we did the same when we played the All Blacks.

"And we mustn't forget that this is the team that prevented us from winning the Grand Slam during the Six Nations."

However, Laporte made it clear he will not be looking back at that defeat - or even further back to 2003, when France met England in the World Cup semi-finals and lost 24-7.

"Who can we speak about revenge to?" said Laporte.

"Half of our players now weren't there. What was Lionel Beauxis doing in 2003? He didn't lose against them that day.

"In 2003, we didn't win the match because the English were better than us. In 1999, it is the same, the Australians were better than us in the final.

"We must stop looking for excuses."

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