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Clive ‘amazed’ by Wilkinson criticism

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

While the No.10's goal-kicking has been exceptional and one of the chief reasons why England are unbeaten in the tournament so far, there have been dark murmurings about his efforts in normal play with the general consensus amongst pundits that Wilkinson is suffering from a lack of form.

"Jonny Wilkinson is getting stick in some quarters which I find absolutely amazing because to me he has been outstanding and England are winning," Woodward told zurichpremiership.com.

"Sport is not always perfect, but what I do know is that it is about whether you win or you lose not about the acres and acres of print that is going around the world at the moment. It makes for interesting reading, but it doesn't make any difference to how we prepare for this game."

Woodward expects to have a full squad at his disposal for the Sydney clash, although there is still some doubt over the fitness of Josh Lewsey and Iain Balshaw, with Leicester's Austin Healey waiting in the wings.

Although key man Richard Hill is definitely available for selection after some weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, Woodward has hinted that the flanker may start the match on the bench.

"We have a couple of final fitness tests this morning and I believe that for the first time since we got here I believe that we could be picking from a full-strength 30-man squad to play France," said Woodward.

"Hill is definitely ok for the weekend, he is obviously short of match practice but he is one of the world's best players.

"We should have a very strong bench but Richard Hill will definitely be taking part on Sunday in some shape or form and it will be the first time since Georgia."

By Justin O'Regan in Sydney


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