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  Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 11:25 GMT
Bashed by the Boks
In his latest exclusive column for BBC Sport Online, England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson looks back at a brutal encounter against South Africa and discusses an injury that looks set to keep him out of action until the new year.

Jonny Wilkinson
"When I got up and threw a pass to Jonno I felt something 'pop'"
There's been a lot said, a lot written and a lot of conclusions drawn about the Springboks over the past few days.

Yes, I was targeted during the match, of that I have no doubt.

But South Africa always play with a huge amount of passion and commitment, and as a team, we weren't surprised to feel the knocks.

I was certainly involved in a couple of incidents, but the referee Paddy O'Brien had a superb match, so I have no complaints.

I'm still nursing a few bruises from Jannes Labuschagne's 'tackle'. But though it shook me up, it didn't put me off my game.

He's now facing a 23-day ban that is likely to disrupt his Super 12 season next year. Well, that's a matter for him to consider - I've got more important things on my mind.

I injured my left shoulder at the start of the second half. I don't remember too much about the hit, but when I got up and threw a pass to Martin Johnson I felt something 'pop'.


It was great to score some tries but we were happy we conducted ourselves with dignity
It's still very swollen so it's difficult to make a good prognosis, but injuries involving AC joints tend to take about four-or-so weeks to get right.

The key is to ensure it heals properly so I don't intend rushing back into action.

It's very frustrating for both myself and Newcastle. Our Premiership form has slumped and we're propping up the table at present.

But with two Parker Pen matches and a Powergen Cup clash to come before the new year, perhaps it's no bad thing that I'm only missing one Premiership match - against Bristol.

As a team we were delighted with the way we held our heads high and kept our composure on Saturday.

It was great to score some tries, but equally, we were happy we conducted ourselves with dignity.

There wasn't too much banter between the teams after the game, I have to admit.

Sometimes there just isn't time, but I'd be lying if I said that we were rushing to chat to our opponents. It just wasn't that type of match.

It's been a wonderful three weeks for England but when I walked into the dressing room on Saturday I did so with a massive sense of relief.

There were nagging doubts that we could slip up badly in the last match, so I took a few deep breaths when the final whistle was blown.

But we must not get carried away. We've had some good autumns in the past, only to let ourselves down come the Six Nations. We intend to be realistic.

Playing at home we've managed to put some good periods together and notch up some impressive wins.


We now play with confidence but it all means nothing if we let it slip at this point
To come back from 12 points down against Australia, retain our lead against a fighting Kiwi side and pile on the points against the Boks are all good qualities to have developed.

We now play with confidence but it all means nothing if we let it slip at this point.

The opening Six Nations game against France is possibly one of the most important matches England have played for some time.

The World Cup will be just over six months away, and the winner will be able to move into the rest of the tournament knowing that a massive hurdle has been cleared. But more of that to come.

South Africa? Well, I've no doubt they will come back.

They are still a rugby giant. They deserved to win two more games than they did in the Tri-Nations and were probably the form team by the end of the tournament.

They will be desperately disappointed by recent results, but with players of the calibre of Joe van Niekerk, Brent Russell and Andre Pretorius they have true quality coming through the ranks.

Then again, so do we.

 NOV 23-24 TESTS
 ENGLAND 53-3 SA
 WALES 17-43 NZ
 IRELAND 16-7 ARG
 FRANCE 35-3 CANADA
 ITALY 3-34 AUSTRALIA
 SCOTLAND V FIJI

See also:

26 Nov 02 | International
26 Nov 02 | International
25 Nov 02 | International
27 Nov 02 | International
Links to more Jonny Wilkinson stories are at the foot of the page.


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