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Wilkinson in line for top accolade

Wilkinson is shortlisted for the IRB's world player of the year award
Wilkinson is shortlisted for the IRB's world player of the year award

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Who will win the Rugby World Cup?
Pos. (Last) Country Points
1. (2) England 92.13
2. (4) Australia 88.44
3. (1) New Zealand 88.17
4. (3) France 84.66
5. (5) South Africa 81.23
6. (6) Ireland 80.53
7. (7) Argentina 78.02
8. (8) Wales 76.92
9. (9) Scotland 76.36
10. (10) Samoa 73.46

SYDNEY, Australia (Reuters) -- England star Jonny Wilkinson is on a five-man shortlist for rugby's Player-of-the-Year award to be announced 24 hours after Saturday's World Cup final.

The Flyhalf, who kicked all his team's points in the 24-7 semifinal win against France, is joined by teammate and hooker Steve Thompson.

France No. 8 Imanol Harinordoquy, All Black Richie McCaw and Australian flanker Phil Waugh are also nominated for the International Board accolade.

There was a further boost for England ahead of the final against hosts Australia when coach Clive Woodward's side returned to the top of the world rankings.

Australia also leapfrogged New Zealand into second slot with France dropping down to fourth.

Woodward, meanwhile, confirmed that Wilkinson will have special security in the run-up to the match against the defending champions.

"We make sure a couple of people who are on the trip with us are always around him," Woodward told a news conference. "That has been happening for the last 12 months.

"We are going to look after him when we know there are lots of people around so it's not just the World Cup. It's not just in Australia.

"It's no big drama. He's a high-profile sports person."

Woodward said the England management would also be taking security precautions to prevent any espionage before Saturday.

"We take our normal precautions which are professional and thorough," he said. "I don't really think the Australians will do anything untoward."

Woodward said special equipment was used to detect any hidden microphones or security bugs at team meetings and in the changing rooms.

"It's just being professional like any business, like any business meeting," he said.

Woodward said the management would look through the videos of the semifinals and plan their strategy against the Wallabies who upset tournament favourites New Zealand 22-10.

"When people ask what do you think of the style of play, I struggled to answer that question because I think we can play any way we want," Woodward added.

"We will plan for that this week, like every other game for the last couple of years. It will be based on beating Australia."

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