MORE THAN 60 local rugby players went home last week with great satisfaction and an autographed poster of England rugby star Jonny Wilkinson. During his Adidas Asian Tour, the 2003 Rugby World Cup hero spent an afternoon with players from the Hong Kong Under-14, Under-16, and Under-19 teams as well as the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) Rugby Academy at King's Park Sports Ground. England's highest-ever points scorer, Wilkinson was instrumental in the country's first World Cup victory in Australia, converting a drop-goal in the last minute of extra-time to secure a 20-17 win over the hosts - a kick heard around the world. The rugby world was shocked by the news last December that he might never play rugby again unless he had an operation to remove a boney growth which was impinging on a nerve in his neck vertebrae. After a successful operation in February doctors gave him the go-ahead to play again. During the two-hour coaching clinic, the 25-year-old showed the young players his famous kicks as well as giving them tips on how to improve theirs. Max Woodward, 13, was excited to be coached by his favourite player. 'I am really happy today as I did not expect I would see him in person,' said the West Island School fly-half. 'I learned a lot from Jonny and his tips are very useful. Now I know I should relax more when kicking the ball. 'I was also relieved to see him in action again, as I had thought he might never play again. 'He's a great role model for young players as he works very hard.' Another player who learned some valuable lessons from Wilkinson was HKRFU Rugby Academy graduate Li Chi-yung, now studying sports science at the University of the West of England on a Rugby Academy scholarship. 'Jonny's kicking is the best in the world. I now realise I have been making a lot of mistakes and will correct them from now on,' said the 19-year-old centre. 'Meeting him has been one of the highlights of my rugby career. His skills are amazing and the coaching session helped me a lot in developing my game. 'He's my inspiration. I am now in the junior squad of my university and eventually I want to play professional rugby.' Wilkinson was awarded an MBE from Queen Elizabeth for his World Cup exploits and was named the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year 2003. His dedication to the sport often sees him arrive early and stay late for training, and there are reports that he has been known to practise even on Christmas Day. Despite his bone-crunching tackling in defence, Wilkinson was polite, sincere and incredibly friendly to his Hong Kong fans. He signed autographs and took pictures with everyone present, including the spectators, though he had to run for another function after the training.