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Wilko has put World Cup ambition on line for Saints
LAST summer Jon Wilkin’s international status was so established that he could have looked confidently ahead to being part of a home World Cup campaign.
He had been such a part of the England set-up that he was a natural choice to skipper his country in the second game against the Exiles in 2012.
But when it came to taking one for the team, Wilkin’s willingness to plug the gap in the Saints halves may prove costly to his World Cup ambitions.
Saints were left short at number seven when coach Nathan Brown spotted that Jonny Lomax was better suited to full back.
And although Wilkin’s switch has not been a perfect solution, both his coach and skipper have stressed how selfless a sacrifice it has been.
Captain Paul Wellens said: “Wilko is an unselfish player.
“He does what is best for the team, not for himself.
“He is an intelligent footballer with a good kicking game – he brings that to the team to enable Lance Hohaia and Jonny Lomax to do what they do.
“Wilko is someone who can cope with that extra responsibility.
“He is an international back-rower, who is playing in the halves in a World Cup year.
“I know he desperately wants to play in the World Cup, people should not underestimate his sacrifice for the team.
“At times people may question why he is playing in the halves – but if you ask Jon, he’ll say he has been asked to do a job and is doing it to the best of his ability.”
It is a viewpoint echoed by the man who asked him to make the move in late February.
“Wilko has put a World Cup spot on the line to do what was best for the club.
“If Wilko had not moved we would have been struggling.
“He has done a great job for the team in that position. I am sure for next year what he has done will help his back row game too,” said Brown.