Wilkinson gets the nod over Flood as Argentina fail to get their wish
Jonny Wilkinson has been handed the task of steering England to a third successive World Cup final as Martin Johnson announced his England side to play Argentina today.
In just under 24 hours New Zealand will take to the pitch for the opening match of the World Cup and in 48 hours England and Argentina will lock horns in Dunedin in a match that could define the shape of Pool B.
After months of training, warm-up matches and speculation, the World Cup is nearly upon us and with both England and Argentina naming their sides for Saturday’s game, the excitement has just gone up a notch.
England are the 1/8 favourites to win and having seen Johnson select a potentially frightening back line, Argentina look as if they will struggle, especially if they persist with their kicking game.
England’s back three of Chris Ashton, Ben Foden and Delon Armitage make them a huge threat on the counter attack and with Foden expected to be tested with plenty of high ball, the three will have plenty of opportunities in which to counter.
Jonny Wilkinson’s selection at number 10 means Argentina won’t be facing Toby Flood as they wished, and Wilkinson can help England play the expansive game they need to make the most of a talented back division.
Ben Young’s injury problems are behind him but his lack of game time means a spot on the bench with Richard Wigglesworth starting, while Mike Tindall and Manu Tuilagi feature in the centre.
Up front Steve Thompson has been handed a start ahead of Dylan Hartley and will be flanked by Andrew Sheridan and Dan Cole in the front row.
Louis Deacon and Courtenay Lawes make up the second row while the absence of Lewis Moody means James Haskell moves to open-side flanker with Tom Croft at blind-side and Nick Easter at number eight.
It’s a strong team from England and one that can put Argentina to the sword and so the pick of the bets looks to be England to win by 16-20 points at 5/1.