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England need Wilkinson - Pienaar

Jonny Wilkinson is helped off after injuring his knee while playing for Newcastle
Wilkinson will not play again before March because of his knee injury

South Africa fly-half Ruan Pienaar believes England are badly missing Jonny Wilkinson's influence.

Wilkinson, the leading points scorer in Test history, is out of action because of a dislocated knee.

England, who had 21-year-old Danny Cipriani at fly-half, were hammered 42-6 by South Africa on Saturday.

"Wilkinson might make a huge difference to the England set-up - he brings a lot of confidence to the players around him," Pienaar said.

Wilkinson is out of action until March after suffering the latest in a catalogue of serious injuries, but Pienaar believes the sooner he returns the better.

"Jonny Wilkinson has been a top fly-half since he was 18," said Pienaar.

"He has been unlucky with injuries. For sure, I'd like to see him back on the international stage and I think most of his team-mates would like to see that."

Twickenham is a special place to play and to beat them by that margin is a huge honour for us

Springbok fly-half Ruan Pienaar

Cipriani has failed to impress in England's three Tests this season and was charged down by Pienaar for one of South Africa's five tries on Saturday.

"I just saw he lined up the kick and took a chance. Luckily it paid off," said Pienaar.

"I think Cipriani is a great player and he will improve game by game. I have watched him in the Premiership and the Heineken Cup. He is an awesome player and I have great respect for him."

England enjoyed the upper hand in terms of both possession and territory, forcing South Africa to make more than twice as many tackles, but it was the visitors who ran out easy winners.

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"I don't think anyone expected that scoreline," said Pienaar.

"The guys really played together. Twickenham is a special place to play and to beat them by that margin is a huge honour.

"England are still a young team and will grow. Their backline is new to the Test match arena.

"England had their chances but our guys really defended well. We managed to keep them out and it was a massive defensive effort out there."

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see also
Honeymoon over for Johnson
23 Nov 08 |  English
England 6-42 South Africa
22 Nov 08 |  English
Johnson says defeat was 'brutal'
22 Nov 08 |  English
Johnson is right man - Woodward
22 Nov 08 |  English
England 14-28 Australia
15 Nov 08 |  English
Scotland 10-14 South Africa
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
England 6-15 South Africa
20 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union


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