LONDON, October 26 – England captain Steve Borthwick cannot wait to join forces again with World Cup-winning outside-half Jonny Wilkinson during next month's Test campaign at Twickenham.Martin Johnson is due to name a revised elite squad for the November internationals against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand here on Monday but the England manager’s plans have been disrupted by a litany of injuries, with forwards Julian White and Nick Easter joining a lengthy sick list on Saturday.
Ironically it is Wilkinson, whose career has been blighted by a succession of injuries since he landed the winning drop-goal in the 2003 World Cup final, when Johnson was England’s captain, who appears likely to start at No 10 next month with fellow fly-halves Toby Flood (knee) and Danny Cipriani (calf) currently out of contention.
Wilkinson’s career seems to have been rejuvenated by a pre-season move from Newcastle to French club Toulon and Saracens lock Borthwick said: "One guy I hope will be there is Jonny Wilkinson whose game management for Toulon against us was superb.
"It’s not just about his kicking it’s Jonny’s whole game which is excellent," the second-row added.
Reflecting on England’s injury problems, which have denied Johnson the services of some 20 players, Borthwick said: "I don’t know the severity of our injuries but I do know the medical staff will be busy this week.
"So this will be a test of our squad because we need to start building a team immediately and not concern ourselves worrying too much about those guys who are missing."
Borthwick headed off to England’s training camp with the satisfaction of seeing Saracens return to the top of the Premiership with a 21-15 win at home to strugglers Leeds on Sunday.
It was Saracens’ sixth straight victory with Fiji centre Kameli Ratuvou scoring tries either side of half-time.
Fly-half Ceiron Thomas kicked four penalties and a drop-goal for Leeds, who rarely looked like scoring a try.
But Borthwick was unhappy and used a cricketing analogy to sum up his frustration at Saracens’ failure to finish Leeds off.
"We had a very, very honest meeting in which it was agreed that we were wasteful," he said. "In cricket you need to build an innings. We tried to do that but failed.
"So we are not the finished article by any means. Six wins from six is very good, but we are working hard to make sure we are less wasteful and more ruthless."
And Brendan Venter, the South African rugby director of Saracens, was far from pleased as well.
"We were really poor out there," Venter said. "We made it harder work than it should have been. We had opportunities in the first-half that we butchered, and when you have opponents like Leeds, ready to scramble and fight for everything, you need to do better."