Leonard wants to re-kindle killer ways

JASON LEONARD has warned England they must perfect the art of winning close games if they are to stand any chance of regaining the World Cup.

England have just one more warm-up match — against Ireland next Saturday — before travelling to New Zealand, and there has been plenty to concern manager Martin Johnson about their recent displays.

“They have got to go out and treat each game as their last,” said Leonard.

“In a World Cup, it doesn’t matter if you win each game by one point and get through to the final and win by one point.

“You don’t have to be the best team in the world — which I think is how New Zealand have approached it — for four years. You only have to be the best team in the world for four weeks and you’ve won a World Cup.”

Meanwhile, Martyn Williams will make his final Wales appearance at the Millennium Stadium today — and then hope he has done enough to feature in a fourth World Cup.

Williams readily accepts the clock is ticking on a 15-year Test career.

Sam Warburton, Wales’ World Cup captain-in-waiting, has nailed down the number seven shirt, while young Ospreys openside Justin Tipuric is viewed by many as a possible selection bolter.

The combined effect is that Williams, who wins his 99th cap today, has got it all to do as Wales coach Warren Gatland assesses those final few squad vacancies.

“Look, when I was left out the Six Nations squad last season I thought that was me done and dusted,” said Williams.

“But then I was pulled into the World Cup training squad of 45 and I’ve had a good summer’s training and been given the opportunity again.

“Everybody gets frustrated watching and so, yes, I am glad to get a run.

“For a few of us who haven’t had a chance, there is the incentive that, with things still up in the air, a good performance will help.”

Elsewhere, New Zealand coach Graham Henry has rubbished claims from the South Africa camp that the performance is more important than the result in tomorrow’s Tri Nations clash in Port Elizabeth.

With the World Cup taking priority, the Springboks have rotated their squad for the southern hemisphere competition with a view to peaking when the teams gather in New Zealand in three weeks’ time to compete for the biggest prize in the sport.

But Henry is adamant the hosts will want to sign off their preparation with a win.

“I think it’s very important,” he said when asked about the relevance of a victory for the Boks.

“I would think Peter (de Villiers) and John (Smit) and the team will be desperate. It would just give them the little kick they need going into the World Cup. They haven’t got another game so I would think it is vital for them to win.”

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