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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 March, 2003, 10:24 GMT
Jitters grow as Dublin looms

By Jonny Wilkinson
England fly-half

Jonny Wilkinson
Wilkinson says Sunday's match will be as close as they come
There are times when it's impossible to shut out the thoughts at the back of my mind.

As a goalkicker, I'm used to having to deal with the roar of the crowd in my ears.

But as the minutes pass by, the importance of Sunday's winner-takes-all game against Ireland grows and grows.

The match has Grand Slam written all over it and no-one in the England squad can shy away from what success or failure will mean.

A win and every player in the England team can look forward with confidence to the World Cup.

I'm not even going to contemplate hearing the final whistle and not raising my hands in the air.

The mood in the camp is very positive. We were all content with our victory over Scotland.

He's the only player who can go from 0-100 mph faster than any car
Jonny on Jason Robinson
At times it was a bit of dog-fight. They spoiled very well but we came through in the end with an impressive scoreline.

We all shook Jason Robinson's hand after the match. To score two tries while covering for Mike Tindall at centre was superb.

But then nobody's surprised anymore at what he can do. He's the only player I've ever seen who can go from 0-100 mph faster than any car.

I just feel sorry for the defenders he passes on the way to the line.

I gather the management are delighted that Ireland managed a win in Cardiff.

But while it does set up a mighty encounter, it would still be good to have the championship in the bag.

We're expecting the first 20 minutes to be among the hardest imaginable.

For Ireland to be only one game away from only their second Grand Slam is a huge achievement.

Regardless of who's in better form, we know they will throw everything at us and won't rest until the final whistle is blown.

Ireland's David Humphreys
Ireland's David Humphreys will punish anything England give away
And don't forget they have home advantage. Lansdowne Road is always an intimidating stadium to play and I have no doubt that on Sunday it will be at it's most fearsome.

As a side Ireland have shown they have it all.

Their backline is, without doubt, one of the most impressive in the world right now and up front they have strength and power in abundance.

The fans should expect a close game because, as players, we know it's going to be tight.

It could be one of those encounters that rests on a penalty decision or a missed kick, so both myself and David Humphreys will need to be on top form.

I just hope England fans aren't unrealistic
I just hope England fans aren't unrealistic. Some have been under the illusion that we would put 50 or 60 points on Wales and Scotland.

But as both those sides have shown recently - they have some superb rugby players and are able to compete with the best.

But Sunday, the last game of the championship, is about two other teams; England and Ireland.

It's a tough one to call - but that's what makes it so mouthwatering.

Of course, there are some who'll win whatever the result - and I know a few of the boys wish they had taken out shares in Guinness before the Six Nations had begun!

The black stuff will certainly be flowing on Sunday night. Keep you're finger crossed that I'll be raising my glass in celebration.





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England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson
"There's an element of nerves involved"


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