Wilko counters critics

Jonny Wilkinson accepts that his performance against Wales was below par, but refuses to take the blame for England’s defeat.

The usually reliable flyhalf had an indifferent start to the Six Nations on Saturday, throwing a speculative pass that led to Wales’s first try in a dramatic come-from-behind victory.

“I would be on another planet if I wasn’t aware of a little of the post-match talk,” he wrote in his column in The Times.

“When you are playing at flyhalf, you are obviously in the spotlight. If you help to make things happen and they go well, you get a lot of credit and if they don’t, you take the heat. I never bought into the credit, I’ve always said a rugby victory is a 15-man victory and it’s a 15-man game when we lose, as well.

“That’s not to say that I shirk responsibility. I know I was involved in some passages of play on Saturday which I wish I had executed differently. Early on, I thought I directed the game quite well, but in the second half, I did a couple of things which put us under more pressure rather than less.

“The idea was right, but the execution wasn’t. The problem we had was that these mistakes snowballed.”

Explaining the pass to debutant Danny Cipriani, Wilkinson said: “Danny had just come on, he has two great feet and he had more space and time than I did. Outside him was Paul Sackey and, between the two of them, I thought maybe we could have had a mismatch out wide.

“As I saw it, it was a no-lose decision. Wales were flying up on me, but not outside, where Danny and Sacks were. I saw that the Welsh were moving up on me so quickly, I thought I needed to get the ball away quicker and that’s why I misjudged the weight of the pass.

“Wrong execution, but the decision? These are decisions you make throughout a game. We’re in that England team because week in, week out you are making those decisions productively and positively.”

England centre Mike Tindall has been ruled out for the whole tournament, while winger David Strettle and flankers Tom Rees and Lewis Moody will play on part in their match against Italy on Sunday.

Coach Brian Ashton is due to name his team on Tuesday.