Jonny Wilkinson believes the experience in the England team is a major factor in their hopes of progressing in the Rugby World Cup.
Eddie Jones has named his team for England’s opening fixture against Tonga on Sunday with both George Ford and Owen Farrell starting in the midfield.
And Wilkinson, who kicked England to World Cup glory back in 2003, reckons he sees enough experience in the team to deal with the pressure and stress of the biggest stage in rugby.
‘I saw that team and I thought it looked like a very strong version of what we have in the squad,’ Wilkinson told ITV.
They’re powerful, they’re pacy, and they’ve got a couple of kicking options in Owen Farrell, George Ford and Elliot Daly.
‘There, they’ve also got a couple of guys who can calm everyone down and say ‘this is how we’re going to play’.
‘And they’ve got Manu Tuilagi in their doing his thing.’
England’s squad for Tonga clash
Starting XV: Daly; Watson, Tuilagi, Farrell (c), May; Ford, Youngs; Marler, George, Sinckler, Lawes, Itoje, Curry, Underhill, B Vunipola
Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Genge, Cole, Kruis, Ludlam, Heinz, Slade, Joseph
Jones has made just two changes from the team that dismantled Ireland at Twickenham earlier this summer with Courtney Lawes replacing George Kruis and Anthony Watson in for Joe Cokansiga.
The Australian coach’s experience of the Rugby World Cup includes reaching the final with Australia in 2003, winning with South Africa in 2007 and masterminding Japan’s famous victory over South Africa four years ago.
And while he gave little away, England’s coach seemed confident his group had adapted to the very different conditions of Japan.
‘The focus this week has been about getting right for Tonga. We have had a good seven days in Japan where we have acclimatised really well,’ Jones said.
‘Our sleep patterns are good and the physical conditioning of the players is outstanding. We have been able to add a bit more on our team togetherness and cohesion too.
‘Now it is about putting in a game plan against Tonga and it is important to be tactically right. We know they are going to be ferocious and full of pride and passion.’
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