Jonny Wilkinson: ‘I benefited from bench’

Jonny Wilkinson
© PA Photos
Jonny Wilkinson believes that time he spent on the sidelines has benefited him.

Coach Martin Johnson has given the biggest indication yet that Jonny Wilkinson will be England’s starting fly-half at the World Cup by naming him in the lineup to face Ireland tomorrow afternoon.

The 32-year-old has played the understudy role to Toby Flood for the last 18 months, featuring mainly from the substitutes’ bench.

However, it now appears Wilkinson has reclaimed the number ten shirt and he has revealed that he has learnt a lot from being out of the side.

"It is a massive pleasure [starting] and it is ultimately what you are after," said the Toulon fly-half.

"The experience of being on the bench and having to react to that has been a massive learning one for me. I have benefited hugely from it.

"At the time I probably would have wanted to be in a different role and I may not have been the happiest with it but what I learned - in terms of coming into late parts of games, needing to try and find solutions or hold onto situations - was invaluable.”

Wilkinson last started a match for a full-strength England side in March 2010.

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