Wilkinson dismisses coaching rumour

Published: Sunday 29th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Jonny Wilkinson has rubbished reports he will join England’s back-room staff for the World Cup, claiming “they’ve already got all the coaches they need”.

World Cup-winner Wilkinson scotched French media reports he would assume a kicking coach role in England’s build-up to hosting World Cup 2015.

The former Toulon and England fly-half has addressed Stuart Lancaster’s squad several times, and admitted he will continue that ad hoc relationship.

The 35-year-old admitted he harbours “serious reservations” about whether he will seek a full-time career in coaching, despite currently holding a skills role at Toulon.

Wilkinson lives close to England’s Pennyhill Park training base in Bagshot, and uses the hotel gym – where he admitted he comes into casual contact with the Test squad.

“They’ve already got all the coaches they need and everyone can see how good the job is that they are doing,” said Wilkinson.

“There’s no need for me to be there, apart from just to be positive.

“It came out of France, which is why it’s so random. I don’t know why they would know anything about what I’m supposed to be doing.

“But in terms of being around England, it’s great because there’s no feeling that I need to sneak through, if I see someone, Stuart Lancaster, Graham Rowntree or the players, I just say ‘hi, how’s things?’.

“There’s absolutely nothing I can say about that story, honestly, it’s the most difficult thing, because I can say actually nothing about it.

“It’s as clear as, I imagine, someone has decided ‘I’m going to write this’ and then there’s a story.

“It’s not annoying. It makes no difference to my life either way, but it probably does to you guys.

“I live just round the corner (from Pennyhill Park) and I use the gym so sometimes when I’m walking down to the gym I’ll bump into Catty and I’ll ask him how things are.

“Sometimes I’ll bump into Andy Farrell or Mike Brown, who I’ve played with and against. When you see them it’s good to have a catch-up.

“I live at the gym as well, which doesn’t help!

“That’s probably the main thread here, that unfortunately I’m at the gym too much, so it might look like I’m hanging out with the squad when I’m not.

“It’s nice to be around that atmosphere, it reminds a fair bit of what I used to be up to.”

Wilkinson was speaking at the launch of Land Rover’s ‘We Deal in Real’ Rugby World Cup 2015 campaign, putting grassroots rugby at the heart of the build-up to the global tournament.

Racal Decca RFC took on Streatham and Croydon at Farnborough rugby club, with Wilkinson running on the kicking tee much to the surprise of the two teams.

Frimley-born Wilkinson conceded he may never chase a full-time coaching career.

“I don’t know, to be honest I have serious reservations about my ability to coach groups of players,” said Wilkinson, when asked if he wants to coach England in the long run.

“It’s a very different job from one-on-one coaching, where you get to know a personality, you understand them and work with them on a day-to-day basis.

“It’s a very different job and a very, very tough job taking a group and living that life.

“I don’t know, I honestly don’t know.

“What I do know is that I absolutely adore working with people one-on-one and getting to know people really well, finding out what they need and trying to supply that in an ongoing supportive role.”

England full-back Mike Brown admitted he nagged Wilkinson to seek a more formal arrangement with Stuart Lancaster’s squad.

“I was just speaking to him about it,” said Harlequins star Brown of Wilkinson’s involvement with England.

“He’s come in before and worked with individuals and little groups.

“It’s great to have someone of that stature and what he’s achieved around.

“It’s amazing to have him in for the short time he’s been in for before. If we can get him again, it will be amazing.

“I hope it will happen. I don’t think there’s anything concrete or set in stone.

“I told him ‘mate, last time you were in it was amazing for us’. Especially for us backs as we are quite young and still learning so much, to have the chance to learn off him; we are in awe of him.

“He came in and addressed the squad and let us know what he thought of how we were playing. He was so positive; it was great for us to hear that.”

:: Land Rover Ambassadors Jonny Wilkinson and Mike Brown were speaking at the launch of ‘We Deal In Real’, Land Rover’s Rugby World Cup 2015 campaign that champions people at the heart and soul of the game by putting grassroots clubs on the global stage. www.landrover.com/rugby @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal

Published: Sunday 29th March 2015 by The News Editor

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