Will Greenwood hails ultimate professional Jonny Wilkinson
Fly-half Wilkinson announced his retirement from rugby on Monday after a glittering career which included kicking the winning drop goal in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final against Australia.
Greenwood, who represented England between 1997 and 2004, said Wilkinson brought professionalism to the squad.
“Incredible guy, dedication and level of commitment that I hadn’t seen before when he came into the squad as a young man,” he said.
“He taught a lot of us old players a little bit about what it really meant to be professional.
“A lot of us had come from the amateur era and had led a very different life on a sports field and rugby field where rugby was a past-time, social and some fun and then you begin to throw in the professionalism.
“Jonny then came in as a young guy and led the way in terms of the dedication and commitment that he was prepared to sacrifice to achieve his goal and that is infectious and spreads.
“That didn’t spread just to the 14 guys on the field with him but to the World Cup squad, every single English player trying to get into that squad and fed down into the kids, boys and girls up and down the country.
“He clearly will always be remembered as the rockstar of that team. For us we have slightly different stories on him, but we can’t deny the impact he had on that side.”
Along with that World Cup, Wilkinson has won multiple Six Nations crowns as well as the English Premiership and Heineken Cup.
Greenwood said Wilkinson deserved to end his career as a great.
“Difficult to argue with (his status as a great),” he said.
“Toulon might do the double (this season), won the European Cup last year. He still smashes into tackles and fizzes passes off either hands 25 yards and covers every single blade of grass.”
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