Owen Farrell can emulate Jonny Wilkinson, claims Sir Clive Woodward
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 26/02/17 2:24pm
World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward has tipped England back Owen Farrell to emulate former England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson and lead England to glory.
Woodward gave Wilkinson his England debut in 1998 and the stand-off went on to kick the winning drop goal for England in the 2003 World Cup final against Australia.
Farrell, 25, has been a key player in England's 16-game winning run under Eddie Jones by playing at inside-centre, allowing George Ford to play at fly-half.
Saracens fly-half Farrell will win his 50th cap against Italy at Twickenham on Sunday and Woodward has drawn comparisons between the Wigan-born man and 91-time capped Wilkinson.
"Farrell is already a world-class player, a cast-iron starter for the Lions this summer barring injury, but I believe he has the potential to become one of the all-time greats of English rugby, hopefully a World Cup winner - perhaps even as captain - and possibly the most capped player in England's history," Woodward wrote in The Mail on Sunday.
"When I was lucky enough to work with Jonny Wilkinson I assumed he was a one-off and I would never see his like again, in English rugby anyway, in my lifetime. But the truth is Farrell is a long way down the road to emulating Jonny.
"His goal kicking and tackling are absolutely on a par - which is saying something - and his all-round play has matured massively over the last two to three years.
"They share the same flinty competitive edge and Farrell is beginning to also display the maturity and self-control Jonny showed in the fiercest of battles.
"They also display the same work ethic and focus on trying to achieve perfection. There are so many similarities."
Wilkinson registered 1,179 points for England from his 91 tests, while Farrell has so far managed 562 points in 49 games for England.