- 3 Feb 07, 08:50 PM
Twickenham - It can be very hard not to use hyperbole when writing about Jonny Wilkinson at the best of times, and having just watched his display against Scotland I’m not even going to try.
So, which word plucked from the gushing end of the semantic spectrum shall we use to describe the return of the perfect 10 (sorry Dan, but Wilko was here first).
Remarkable? Not even close.
Incredible? Getting there I suppose.
Astonishing? Ball-park I guess, but somehow still too, well, limp really.
How about miraculous?
I don’t think he can walk on water, but after Saturday’s display in England’s win at Twickenham I’m thinking of seeing what the bookies will offer me on that.
OK, it was only an average Scottish team and the English pack laid the foundations with a welcome return to something like their dominating best.
But Wilkinson was playing his first game for England for 1,169 days, he is just into his 10th comeback from injury and had played little more than 40 minutes since lacerating a kidney.
And how does he ease himself back?
He scores a Calcutta Cup record of 27 points, comprising seven kicks out of nine, a cheeky drop-goal and a try, and puts in at least one thumping tackle to remind us further of those distant days before his body called a time out.
OK, the rugby gods were smiling when the TMO decided he had not been in touch for his try, but it’s about time they gave him a break.
The Scotland match had many talking points for the struggling world champions - the opening chapter of Brian Ashton’s reign, the debut of Andy Farrell, Phil Vickery’s first game since being appointed long-term captain and the return of Jason Robinson from international retirement among them.
But Jonny’s return dwarfed all of them, and the rapturous reception he got from the England faithful when he went off after 73 minutes illustrated that perfectly.
He had been so keen to get back in the thick of things initially, he was about to kick off when he realised the rest of the team were locked in a huddle 20 yards away and had to run over sheepishly to join them.
But maybe he should have just got started without them - it was the sort of day when he could have pulled it off.
Having waxed lyrical I suppose we need to come back to earth and remind ourselves that it is only one match and the long journey back to the top has only just started.
But for now, let’s just salute the greatest comeback since Lazarus decided to give that breathing lark another crack.