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Last Updated: Monday, 24 October 2005, 18:56 GMT 19:56 UK
Woodward 'made Wilkinson mistake'
Jonny Wilkinson
Wilkinson played with Dawson in England's World Cup winning team
Matt Dawson has said Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward should not have picked Jonny Wilkinson in the first Test against New Zealand.

"I would never have played Wilkinson in a million years," the England scrum-half told BBC Radio Five Live.

"He was not up to Test level, let alone Lions level, and was played at centre, where he had not played for years.

"I'm not blaming Jonny, but that was a very tough call. I'm not a selector and everyone has their view."

Wilkinson was just coming back from long-term injury when he was named in the Lions squad.

In 2005, there seemed to be a lot of coaches around - there were elements where they would conflict
Matt Dawson

He was selected at centre for the first Test against the All Blacks, despite having only played part of one tour match there.

Yet Dawson, who did not start any of the three matches against New Zealand, said he did not have much sympathy for Gavin Henson at being left out of the first Test.

The Wales centre had been widely tipped to partner captain Brian O'Driscoll in midfield for the game.

But Dawson believes Woodward was right to leave him out: "On absolute pure form, there could have been no argument," Dawson said.

"I didn't see where he [Henson] had performed on the tour."

Dawson said Woodward had failed to match the spirit generated by Ian McGeechan on the tour of South Africa in 1997.

And he said Woodward had fallen short of being the "all-encompassing leader" that was required.

"In 2005, there seemed to be a lot of coaches around from different countries and that did not dilute their ability," Dawson said.

"But there were elements where they would conflict. One would say one thing and then another would say something that would contradict."

The New Zealand tour was Dawson's third experience of duty with the Lions.

He played under McGeechan in 1997, Graham Henry in Australia in 2001, before serving under Woodward, who he won the World Cup with in 2003.

Dawson said McGeechan was "by far the best" coach of the Lions tours he had been on.

"Graham and Clive were not as good in that environment," he said.




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Interview: England scrum-half Matt Dawson



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