England skipper Martin Johnson leapt to the defence of Jonny Wilkinson after he kicked his team into the World Cup final against Australia.
Johnson heaped praise on his fly-half's 24-point semi-final haul against France in atrocious weather conditions.
Wilkinson had failed to fire on all cylinders in the run-up to Sunday's clash but bounced back to form in emphatic fashion, kicking five penalties and three drop goals - the latter a record for an Englishman.
"A lot of stick came his way this week, totally unwarranted in my view. And he came through and played a fantastic game," said Johnson.
While Wilkinson emerged as England's hero, his opposite number Frederic Michalak - who some predicted might steal the show - seemed to crack under the pressure.
He was was eventually replaced by the more experienced Gerald Merceron.
"Michalak made a few mistakes under pressure. His kicking wasn't great, and that hurt their chances," said Johnson.
"Jonny was quite the opposite, I thought he controlled the game brilliantly and his kicking was fantastic, which kept us ticking over in what was a close game.
Johnson added: "He's the best fly-half in the world and every team would want to have him - I'm just glad he's on our team."
Wilkinson himself said he had not been aware of the criticism directed his way before the match.
"I have not read a paper since I've been out here," he said.
"I am happy for people to have their opinion; that's the whole point. When I represent my country I am everyone's property, and everyone is allowed to have their opinion.
"I just try to please the rest of my team-mates with my performances."
England may face criticism from the rest of the rugby world for their lack of tries victory - they have scored just one since the pool stages.
But Wilkinson said the stormy weather played its part.
He added: "The rain hit us and we all knew it wasn't going to be the most spectacular game of rugby.
"But when you go into a game of this nature any sort of win is going to be satisfying."
France coach Bernard Laporte was also quick to heap praise on England's match-winner.
"Wilkinson has a fantastic ability to put a team under pressure," said Laporte.
"Someone said he was dead, but he was very alive tonight. He kicked the penalties and dropped the goals."