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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 August 2007, 19:12 GMT 20:12 UK
Wilkinson calls for England push
Jonny Wilkinson
While the expectation is not so high among lesser-knowing rugby fans, inside the squad the pressure stays exactly the same

Jonny Wilkinson
Jonny Wilkinson insists now is the time for England to kick-start their build-up to the upcoming World Cup as they prepare to host Wales on Saturday.

England are less than six weeks away from their World Cup opener against USA, with the match against Wales one of only three games left before then.

And fly-half Wilkinson told BBC Sport: "Now the pressure is on every game.

"We must create a team understanding, ethic and consistency that allows us to take games by the scruff of the neck."

Coach Brian Ashton has again opted to shuffle his pack, with Joe Worsley moved to open-side flanker, Martin Corry on the blind-side and Andy Farrell back at inside centre in a new-look pairing with Leicester's Dan Hipkiss among several changes.

England, winners of the World Cup in 2003, have failed to hit those heights again since, and they struggled in the Six Nations earlier this year.

But Wilkinson said: "While the expectation is not so high among lesser-knowing rugby fans, inside the squad the pressure stays exactly the same.


"When that happens and everyone works for each other, you achieve that near-to-optimum level which allows you to win big games.

"In the World Cup it comes down to the bounce of the ball sometimes. If you're in that ball park where you can get that last kick to win or you can hang on at the end, you only have to do that a certain number of times and you're in the final.

"We need to work on that and see it happen in front of our eyes in big-match situations and that's why these three games will allow us to see where we are."

However, Wilkinson admits Wales will provide a stern examination of England at Twickenham on Saturday, especially after they ran Australia close away from home in their recent 29-23 defeat in Sydney.

They've got huge depth of talent and some of best players coming through the game of rugby at the moment

Wilkinson on Wales

"We've watched a lot of good videos of Wales, and how they played out in Australia against a team that are clearly no slouches was mightily impressive," he said. "And they obviously beat us last time we played against them.

"They've got huge depth of talent and some of the best players coming through the game of rugby at the moment and they are one of the teams that have a very realistic chance of going a long way in this World Cup."

England's World Cup defence begins on 8 September, and they have two further warm-up games against France, with the sides meeting on 11 August at Twickenham and then a week later in Marseille.

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