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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 January, 2005, 07:27 GMT
Woodward reveals Wilkinson fear
Jonny Wilkinson receives treatment after hurting his knee at Perpignan
British and Irish Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward believes England captain Jonny Wilkinson will miss the entire RBS Six Nations campaign.

Newcastle fly-half Wilkinson injured his knee against Perpignan and Woodward said: "I would be surprised if he plays in the Six Nations."

Woodward added that Wilkinson, if fit, would be in his Lions party to tour New Zealand later this year.

"He is desperate to come on this trip," said the former England coach.

Wilkinson's 2004 was ruined by neck and arm injuries and he was told there was a possibility he might need surgery to reconstruct his knee, which would have left him facing a lay-off of up to nine months.

Despite that fear not becoming a reality, Woodward believes his World Cup star will sit out the entire Six Nations because England's biggest games come early in the campaign - when he is likely to be ruled out - and not at the end.

It's a nightmare I'll be unavailable for part of the Six Nations again
Jonny Wilkinson

An MRI scan revealed damaged medial ligaments making Wilkinson almost certain to miss matches against Wales and France, with the fixture in Ireland on 27 February his earliest likely involvement.

"It's a case of rehabilitating and I'll keep some training going so I shouldn't lose too much fitness," said Wilkinson.

"Obviously, I know what that means regarding the Six Nations and it's a nightmare that I'll be unavailable for part of it again.

"However, I won't put a date on when I might be back. I've guessed too much with injuries and possible comeback dates in the past and got it wrong."

Woodward also outlined more of his plans for the Lions tour of New Zealand.

"What I picked up from the last tour was that there was a lot of travelling," he said.

"I think that one of the worst things that came out after the Lions tour in 2001 was that a couple of players said they never wanted to go again.

"It is my absolute determination to make sure that we have a winning Test series, but very closely behind that, I passionately believe that every person on this trip will have enjoyed the experience."

Woodward said he would not hesitate to shake things up this time around.

If I can just stress - it doesn't mean that the Test players will not be playing in the mid-week teams
Sir Clive Woodward

"I make no apologies that this tour is going to be run differently from every other tour in the history of the game.

"It is not based on a whim, it is based on a lot of research by myself on how things should look.

"There will be one group of 44 players, but there will be two groups of coaches.

"The mid-week coaching team will be headed by Ian McGeechan and the Saturday coaching team will be headed up by myself.

"But if I can just stress - it doesn't mean that the Test players will not be playing in the mid-week teams."

Interview: Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward

Perpignan 33-12 Newcastle
08 Jan 05 |  European Club

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