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Last Updated: Friday, 18 May 2007, 08:41 GMT 09:41 UK
Dawson queries Wilkinson call-up
Jonny Wilkinson
Wilkinson insists England must be positive in South Africa
Former England scrum-half Matt Dawson has questioned the wisdom of taking Jonny Wilkinson on the two-Test tour of South Africa so close to the World Cup.

Wilkinson, on his first England tour since the 2003 World Cup, is part of a squad missing around 35 players.

"There are some selections that make me wonder," Dawson told Five Live Sport.

"Jonny keeps getting crunched and he has not been playing on tip-top form so if you are going to play him, use him in the Saxons where he will run riot."

England go into the two-Test series, which starts in Bloemfontein on 26 May, as massive underdogs with only eight of the squad having 10 caps or more.

South Africa on the other hand will be on a high with two teams reaching the Super 14 final and will be wanting to set a marker down for their World Cup meeting with England in September.


Dawson said some of the players named in the England Saxons - effectively England A - Churchill Cup squad should have gone to South Africa.

"I am a bit confused as to why they have named some players in the Saxons squad that were in the England squad in the Six Nations," added Dawson.

"Shane Geraghty was one of the great young players to come out of the Six Nations. What a great opportunity to take him to South Africa, it will be a baptism of fire but I want to see the youngsters playing in tough terrain."

This trip has drawn parallels with the infamous "Tour of Hell" to the southern hemisphere in 1998 but Dawson says some good can come out of it.

"That tour was an integral part of my career without a doubt," he said. "The forwards came out of that with a huge amount of credit.

"You also had the likes of Josh Lewsey, Jonny Wilkinson and Matt Perry there as well and obviously it took a longer time for those guys to come to the fore.

"It is not going to happen in three or four months. However, it is an opportunity and those players will know what it is like to be in an environment where selectors are going to watch them not only in games but in training."

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