Stuart Lancaster hails "influential" Jonny Wilkinson

Jonny Wilkinson of Toulon passes the ball during the Heineken Cup semi final match between Toulon and Munster at the Stade Velodrome on April 27, 2014
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England coach Stuart Lancaster hails the influence of Jonny Wilkinson following the fly-half's announcement that he will retire this summer.

England coach Stuart Lancaster has hailed the influence of Jonny Wilkinson following the fly-half's announcement that he will retire at the end of the season.

The 34-year-old will be best remembered for kicking the winning points during England's victory over hosts Australia in the 2003 World Cup final.

However, Lancaster considers Wilkinson to be one of the most important players in English rugby due to his relentless hard work both on and off the pitch.

"Possibly the most influential England player of his generation. Up there with the best, but not just on the field," he told Sky Sports News.

"He delivered so much. It was his execution, his ability to win games, nail the big moments and if he hadn't of had the amount of injuries that he had, he would have won many more international caps.

"But it's his influence off the field as well that defines the legacy that he leaves. His level of preparation and attention to detail off the field was unsurpassed."

Wilkinson won a total of 91 caps for England before announcing his international retirement in 2011.

James Haskell of London Wasps in action during the Aviva Premiership match between London Wasps and Newcastle Falcons at Adams Park on May 03, 2014
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