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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 November, 2003, 11:10 GMT
England rally round Wilkinson
Jonny Wilkinson is now the subject of intense media scrutiny
Wilkinson can handle the pressure says Dawson
England scrum-half Matt Dawson has called on the nation to respect Jonny Wilkinson's privacy as he tries to come to terms with his new-found fame.

Dawson supplied the pass for Wilkinson to kick the last-gasp drop goal that won the World Cup for England.

But he knows his team-mate will have to bear the brunt of the adulation in the wake of the team's triumph down under.

"If Jonny wants to keep himself to himself then he should be respected for that," Dawson told this website.

Wilkinson had been the focus of media attention long before his drop goal sealed a 20-17 victory for England over Australia in Sydney.

But the publicity-shy Newcastle fly-half has seen his profile - and earning power - soar after his decisive role in England's dramatic victory.

There were 31 people in that squad and they all deserve a huge amount of praise
Matt Dawson

Dawson believes Wilkinson will be strong enough to handle being in the spotlight.

But he insists the rest of the England squad will do all they can to ease the pressure on his shoulders.

"All the squad will probably need to help, which we will do," said Dawson.

"Jonny's done an unbelievable amount for English rugby. He's our superstar and there's no getting away from that.

"He's had a lot of attention but he's got to deal with it in his own way, and he will.

"He likes to keep himself to himself but he's a very strong character and he will want to do what's right for him. I think we should all respect that.

"Besides, you've got to remember there were 31 people in that squad and they all deserve a huge amount of praise.

"They should be taking the accolades just as much as Jonny. He's said in his interviews that there are other people who have won this World Cup, not just him.

"All the squad and management need to be praised as much as each other."

Links to more England stories


England's Matt Dawson
"Our sole goal was to win the tournament"

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