â00I was very close (to playing). It was one of the more difficult decisions to be made, but I think it was the right one. It was too much of a risk. I could have been doing more damage to it (hamstring), so it was decided after a hard fitness test on Friday that I was better off with another fortnight off.â0
ON THE DEFEAT TO FRANCE:
â00In the first half we went in two points down and we hadnâ00t played any rugby, so there was a reason not to worry. I knew, at some stage, we were probably going to put together some phases and play the way we can.
â00It was one of those tough games you have to dog out. For 78 minutes things were going reasonably well. It was always only ever going to be a one-score game. As it worked it, it worked against us.â0
ON THE REST OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP:
â00You could look at the loss to France a few different ways. There isnâ00t still the hype of our Grand Slam hopes that we openly spoke about before the competition kicked off.
â00So I suppose there is less pressure on us from that point of view.
â00On the flip side weâ00ve only got two games at Croke Park this year and weâ00ve lost the first of them so we donâ00t want the inaugural year at Croke Park to end â00two games, two losses.â00â0
ON JONNY WILKINSONâ00S COMEBACK:
â00Jonny seems to have picked up where he left off the last time he was in an English jersey. He controls things so well and heâ00s a pivotal character â00 thatâ00s the understatement of the year.
â00But heâ00s massively important to them and I donâ00t envisage it being any different this time around.
â00His performance against Scotland wasnâ00t too shabby. I think youâ00ve got to give him time coming back into international rugby. Three years in the wilderness â00 itâ00s going to take its toll and thatâ00s why I though his performance against Scotland was all the more remarkable.
â00It shows you how mentally tough the guy must be to come in and put in a performance under the pressure he must have been under.â0
ON FACING ANDY FARRELL:
â00Andy hasnâ00t done anything wrong. Heâ00s suited to the style of play as a second receiver â00 Andy and Wilkinson like to mix things up.
â00Theyâ00re both excellent passers of the ball and that gives England great width. Andy has a strong defensive game and has a lot of control.
â00Italy was only his second rugby union international and he will only get better from here.â0