The recent comments made by Jonathan Davies about England’s talismanic fly half Johnny Wilkinson seemed to echo with a tone of bitter resentment.

Wilkinson, 33, opted out of the tour to Australia with this year’s British and Irish Lions squad to focus on his career with French club Toulon. In his most recent return to Twickenham he demonstrated that there really is no substitute for experience and a sniper-like left boot. Nothing symbolised this more than the sympathetic pat on the shoulder of Lion cub, and Saracens outside half, Owen Farrell as a late tackle was not enough to stop a snatched drop goal soaring between the posts to propel Toulon to the Heineken Cup Final.

Davies seemed hesitant to even confirm that he thought Wilkinson was a fly-half he would feel comfortable playing with. “I don’t think his game management is great,” he said. “He also does not bring centres into the game.”

Centre inclusion would always be a worrying point for Davies, but the former Welsh Captain is basing his analysis on Toulon’s style of play rather than that of Wilkinson. Matt Gitteau’s inclusion in the French side mean they are blessed with two outside halves, improving distribution, communication, kicking and allowing Wilkinson to have more time on the ball to make decisions.

Toulon do not possess the barrelling new breed of centres like Manu Tuilagi, Jamie Roberts or Mathieu Bastareaud. Instead they rely on an impressive kick-chase game, with agile forwards able to supply quick ball for the speedsters out wide.

Davies insisted that Wilkinson’s brand of rugby, that was so successful against Australia in 2003, would not be effective on this tour with the Lions: “To go to Australia, we have to play more than just a kicking goals and taking three points.”

“They will come and they will score tries against us. I think we’ll have to score tries against them and I don’t think that Johnny Wilkinson is that man.”

Wilkinson will almost certainly be a late-injury call up to the Lions as Warren Gatland has only selected two fly-halves. It shows either an unbelievable faith in two young fly halves or reliance that Wilkinson will come to Australia after the Top 14 final on June 1.

This year’s Six Nations was one of the tightest and most exciting tournaments in its history, but refused to show any outstanding performances from any of the home nations’ outside halves. Ireland fell about in midfield without an experienced general to lead the game from the backs, whilst Dan Biggar did little to impress for Wales. Scotland are a developing team and Laidlaw did well covering the 10 jersey, whilst Weir impressed coming off the bench. Farrell was metronomic from the tee but fell apart against Wales, as he did against Toulon only a week ago, demonstrating that maybe his old head on young shoulders isn’t quite as wizened as much as first thought.

Stuart Hogg is the only other player who could potentially fill in at fly half for the Lions after a breakthrough season for Scotland. His inclusion in the squad will be challenged by talented goal-kicker Leigh Halfpenny who will kick those three points that Jonathan Davies do not think will be enough.

So much of the back row potential of the Lions, and the wildcard selection of Matt Stevens, has been made within the media that no one is asking the question “how will the backs convert what the forwards do up front into points on the scoreboard?”

With giant speedsters who have all the grace of a sledgehammer included in Warren Gatlands 30 man touring party it would make sense to bring Wilkinson. He plays flat on the gain-line when he can and is one of the best distributors in the world. Unleashing Cuthbert, North, Tuilagi, Hogg or Roberts at pace would give any team problems, but could be exactly what is needed to punch through the green and gold defence of Australia.

The defence of Australian fly-half Quade Cooper has always been questionable, but alongside other Australian hopefuls James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale their backline lacks the same physical presence as the Lions.

Davies may think that Wilkinson has “had his day” but Johnny could be the player that changes the series for the better if he is on that late plane, surely to gain his first Lions series victory.

My Lions XV:

15. Stuart Hogg

14. Alex Cuthbert

13. Manu Tuilagi

12. Brian O’Driscoll

11. George North

10. Johnny Wilkinson (Owen Farrell if Wilkinson does not get call up)

9. Mike Phillips

1. Cian Healy

2. Tom Youngs

3. Dan Cole

4. Paul O’Connell

5. Richie Gray

6. Sam Warbuton (c)

7. Justin Tipuric

8. Jamie Heaslip

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAjhLARPhWk - Wilkinson drop goal vs Saracens

Davies wrong about Wilko's last days