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  Saturday, 21 September, 2002, 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK
Big Stimmo close to comeback
In his latest exclusive column, England and Newcastle fly-half Jonny Wilkinson backs Leicester full-back Tim Stimpson to return to the England starting line-up and bemoans his side's last-gasp defeat against Gloucester.

Wilkinson: Tim Stimpson is a complete player
Wilkinson: Tim Stimpson is the complete player
When is the league's most prolific points scorer, not just the league's most prolific kicker?

When it's Tim Stimpson of course.

Stimmo wracked up his 1000th Zurich Premiership point on the weekend, so I'm expecting to see him playing in a pair of 'golden boots' for the rest of the season.

Tim's success, both with Leicester and England, has been prolific.

I noticed that his feat didn't really make too many headlines, but let me tell you, Stimmo is one of the best players in the business. Of that there is no doubt.

Whatever he's been asked to do he's done it and any side who regards him simply as 'Stimpson the boot' usually come a cropper.

His current league points record of 1007 contains an awesome 20 tries, and if my maths is anywhere near up to scratch that works out as an average of one every four-or-so games.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Stimmo back in an England shirt - he's a complete player
That's pretty impressive for any player, so don't get the idea that Tim's happy to simply keep slotting them between the posts.

If you're a decent kicker of the ball, people make assumptions that you don't want to keep the ball in hand and take on the opposition - and that can be frustrating.

But Stimmo does so much more than that. He's a complete rugby player and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him back in the England XV.

He may not currently feature in Clive Woodward's starting line-up and there are some who say he doesn't fit in with the new vision of what Clive wants to achieve with the national side.

But if Tim keeps performing with Leicester, then someone will surely have to sit up and take notice.

With the World Cup on the horizon it's imperative that England has all its best players competing for a place.

I have to admit that I was absolutely gutted by our last minute defeat against Gloucester on the weekend.

We know that we were in a position to win and though I'm a bit critical of the penalty decision given by referee Roy Maybank, we gave ourselves every chance of coming away with the points.

I know that Rob Andrew wasn't too happy with the referee's decision and it's certainly true that the tackle area will always be a point of contention.

The last-gasp defeat against Gloucester was gutting
Wilko: 'The last-gasp defeat against Gloucester was gutting'
Personally, I have found it hard in the opening games because I haven't had much ball to play with.

Sometimes - and you don't hear too many sides saying this - I think we are too fair to the opposition.

We have to be more precise with the decisions we make, but it's certainly not going to help if the players get frustrated with the ref's decisions.

We've been told that the directive this season the referees have to ensure that the tackler has rolled away and is not preventing the release of the ball.

But there's no doubt that consistency is a problem.

Some want to keep the game flowing and will give you the benefit of the doubt and others are happy simply to blow their whistle.

That said, I'm very much of the opinion that there's nothing we, as players, can do. It's much better, therefore, for us to concentrate on what we can do.

We have to keep our minds on the decisions we can affect and have some control over - and deal with the consequences - particularly against Leicester.

They haven't had their best start to the season, but that makes no difference to us.

There is no bigger test than playing the Tigers at Welford Road and we'll have to be on top form if we're going to ensure that our travelling fans can enjoy their drinks after the game.

Friday's game

Saturday's games

Sunday's games


See also:

17 Sep 02 | English
16 Sep 02 | English
15 Sep 02 | English
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