Lions legend Jonny Wilkinson reckons Grand Slam-chasing England have become a better side without him.
Wilkinson, a World Cup winner with two Lions tours under his bet, was dropped from the England starting XV 12-months ago following an eventless 15-15 draw with Scotland.
Now on the eve of this season’s RBS 6 Nations clash between England and Scotland, Wilkinson insists Martin Johnson was right to install Toby Flood as his first choice No10.
“You can want all the things in the world, but there is no fun in it, no enjoyment if you don’t deserve it or earn it,” said Wilkinson.
“I believe hugely in fighting for what you want to achieve, but there are also times when that fighting becomes almost stupid unless you take some time to listen to the signs around you.
“At that time I was starting to go in a direction I didn’t want to go and one I wasn’t enjoying. The signs around me were telling me I needed a break from what I was doing.
“I needed to reassess, I needed to look at things from another angle. After periods of injury it has been a case for me of just getting back in there with England.
“I appreciate the opportunity and I would never turn it down – but I was always questioning ’have I earned this?’
“It was unfair for me to play the whole of that Six Nations without Floody, the way he was going, at least finishing it off and showing what he can do. He did that and now he is where he is.”
Last year, with Wilkinson at fly-half, England stagnated but since Flood took to the helm they have flourished.
Johnson’s men are currently unbeaten in the Championship and looking to go a step closer to Grand Slam with a victory over winless Scotland.
The game represents the 100th anniversary of the first game between the two sides at Twickenham and England will take great comfort from the fact that the Scots have only triumphed at HQ on four occasions, the last time in 1983.