Jonny is back!

World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson has won a shock England recall for Saturday’s Six Nations Championship opener against Scotland at Twickenham.

The Newcastle fly-half, despite playing barely 50 minutes’ rugby in twelve weeks, will be reunited with England’s number ten shirt more than three years since he last wore it.

A demoralising catalogue of injuries and illness, his most recent problem was a lacerated kidney, stalled the 27-year-old’s England career on 52 caps.

He has not represented his country since landing an extra-time drop-goal in the 2003 World Cup final that gave England a 20-17 victory over Australia.

But Wilkinson now returns to the fold for Brian Ashton’s first game as England head coach, taking his place in a radically-changed team.

Former Great Britain rugby league captain, 31-year-old Andy Farrell, will line up alongside Wilkinson at inside centre, making a union Test bow after just seven first team starts for Saracens since he switched codes.

Farrell’s former Wigan colleague Jason Robinson returns for a first England appearance since retiring from Test rugby in September, 2005, while his fellow World Cup winner Mike Tindall is also back.

There are a total of eleven personnel changes – plus positional switches for new captain Phil Vickery and Wasps back Josh Lewsey – from the side beaten 25-14 by South Africa in Andy Robinson’s last game as England boss just over nine weeks ago.

Five players on starting duty that bleak November afternoon, Jamie Noon, Ben Cohen, Andy Goode, Chris Jones and Pat Sanderson, find no place in the team or among the replacements.

Sale Sharks wing Mark Cueto, meanwhile, is injured, with Newcastle centre Mathew Tait, Gloucester scrum-half Peter Richards, Bath hooker Lee Mears, Leicester prop Julian White and Wasps lock Tom Palmer all dropping down to the bench.

Gloucester’s Iain Balshaw returns at full-back, so Lewsey moves to the wing, while there are also recalls for Leicester trio Harry Ellis, George Chuter and Louis Deacon, plus Sale’s 6ft 3in openside flanker Magnus Lund.

Both Lund and Tigers lock Deacon featured during last summer’s Australia tour, which signalled Ashton’s reappearance on the England scene as attack coach.

Despite losing leadership duties to Wasps prop Vickery, Leicester number eight Martin Corry is retained in England’s back-row, where he is joined by Lund and Joe Worsley.

Worsley and Corry are the only players who keep their starting positions from the South Africa Test, such has been the extent of Ashton’s overhaul.

And it will be a landmark game for three players, as Vickery, Corry and Tindall all win their 50th caps.

Wilkinson’s comeback could be perceived as a huge gamble by Ashton, given he has made just a solitary appearance since suffering his latest fitness problem.

He played more than half of Newcastle’s Guinness Premiership clash against Leicester on Saturday, but Ashton had already described Wilkinson’s contribution during a three-day Twickenham training camp last week as “staggering.”

Wilkinson is now poised to make a first England appearance at Twickenham since a World Cup warm-up victory over France in September, 2003.

Of the 30 Tests England have played without him during the past 38 months, the world champions have claimed just 12 victories.

Farrell, meanwhile, has a glorious chance to make an immediate statement of intent for England’s World Cup defence in France later this year.

His high-profile code switch, jointly funded by Saracens and the Rugby Football Union, was delayed by a prolonged injury absence that meant he did not make his union debut until earlier this season.

Initially there were even question marks about his best position – inside centre or blindside flanker – before Saracens settled on the number 12 shirt, and he has rapidly grown in confide

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