Former rugby player Wilkinson says England genuine contenders for 2015 WC
Former player Jonny Wilkinson has backed Stuart Lancaster's England to be genuine contenders for the 2015 World Cup.
Wilkinson's ringing endorsement of the new regime came in London on the eve of a fixture to which he will forever be linked.
"I'm not a betting man. But from what I see, I'd say it's less a possibility than a likelihood England will go into the tournament as favourites or close to it," the Mirror quoted Wilkinson, as saying.
Wilkinson still bears the scars from the car crash that was England's last World Cup campaign.
So when he comes out so strongly in favour of Lancaster, who has only been head coach on a full-time basis for two minutes, it is significant indeed.
"England will go to the World Cup not feeling they are a top-four team who can have a go," Wilkinson said.
"But in the category above 'anything can happen' that we were in 2003. Stuart is doing a fabulous job and if these guys continue to progress over the next couple of years I'll be surprised if they don't make the final," he added.