Rugby World Cup 2011: We are driven by 1999 failure - Jonny Wilkinson

Jonny Wilkinson and England team manager Martin Johnson
Wilkinson (left) is playing in his fourth World Cup

Jonny Wilkinson says the fear of repeating England's early exit from the 1999 World Cup is motivating the team as much as the glory of 2003's win.

Team manager Martin Johnson was captain of the team that lost in the quarter-finals 12 years ago, before winning the Webb Ellis trophy at the next attempt.

And fly-half Wilkinson said: "Sooner or later next week doesn't appear for a team in the World Cup.

"We just have to make sure we don't leave ourselves in that position."

Wilkinson, then 20, came on as a replacement for Paul Grayson in the 44-21 last-eight defeat by South Africa in 1999.

After the loss, the players returned to their clubs, with Johnson at Leicester and Wilkinson at Newcastle.

Because of the way the fixtures fell, the two played each other the following weekend.

Wilkinson added: "Johnno talked about watching the semi on TV before going to play Newcastle away.

"I know exactly what Martin was talking about because he was playing against me.

"We got knocked out in the quarter-finals and the next week of the semi-final was possibly one of the coldest, rainiest days we had at Newcastle.

"If you don't get these things right, there comes a time when you do the analysis and say, 'We've got to be better next time'. But the next time is four months along the line in the Six Nations - it's not next week."

After victorious but unconvincing outings against Argentina and Georgia, England face Romania on Saturday and Scotland seven days later in their final two group games.

The squad want to eliminate the personal mistakes and indiscipline that marred those two performances.

Their wins have come despite conceding 25 penalties - along with yellow cards for Dylan Hartley and Dan Cole - and a suspension for Courtney Lawes.

Wilkinson said: "Guys are understanding now that once is a mistake, twice is a lot more than that and three times just can't happen."

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