JON Wilkin believes he’s at the top of his game – and he’s got the science to prove it.
The St Helens second rower took part in an experiment testing how modern kits help performance.
Scientists at Liverpool John Moore University discovered today’s gear does give players an edge.
And Wilkin is in equally confident mood going into the Four Nations tournament next week.
He said: “This is the best prepared side we’ve had.
“The coach Steve McNamara really has left no stone unturned.
“There is not a lot more that could have been done and it feels like I’m at the top of my game.”
England’s Four Nations campaign starts on October 29 against Wales.
Wilkin said: “In my time as an international player, this is the most contact I’ve had with a squad.
“We have had two or three training camps, we’ve met up through the year, and come together feeling comfortable and familiar.
“Even though we have a couple of lads coming in from outside the ETS (Elite Training Squad), the training side of things has been really positive.”
Wilkin’s involvement in research by Gillette and Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) was designed to evaluate the impact that the technological evolution of kit and equipment has had on modern rugby performance.
Those tests into the biomechanics and physiology of players showed modern kits gained teams the equivalent of two or more successful kicks per games, and added an additional 10 minutes of high intensity workload to a rugby player’s game.
The tests compared kicking performance using the latest boots, ball and kicking tee versus 15-year-old boots, ball and kicking off sand.
The difference between these factors resulted in a 59% improvement in accuracy, a greater range of 22 metres, and 23% greater velocity.
Dr Graeme Close, senior lecturer in Sports Science at Liverpool John Moores University, said: “Modern players can now attempt kicks from greater distances, at least 50 metres and sometimes even from their own half.
“This was almost unthinkable 15 years ago, where 40 metres was about the limit, and the very best kickers were only averaging around 60% success.
“Teams can no longer afford to give a penalty away anywhere in their own half.”