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Dublin: 7°C Thursday 29 October 2020

1 more year: Team support convinced Wilkinson to play on

Over to you, BOD.

JW in familiar pose.
JW in familiar pose.
Image: Claude Paris/AP/Press Association Images

JONNY WILKINSON SAYS he sought the advice of Toulon team-mates Matt Giteau and Frederik Michalak before targeting a further season at the French Top 14 club.

The 33-year-old England World Cup winner was seriously considering bringing an end to his playing career when his contract with the French club ran out at the end of this campaign due to a long standing groin problem.

But Wilkinson told The Times on Saturday that encouragement from Giteau and Michalak and following a successful operation has tipped the balance in favour of signing a new contract.

Discussing his recent operation in The Times, Wilkinson said: “I didn’t know if it was going to work, but it has given me the ability to go out and work hard, to recover and go again.

“From November through to January, I was thinking: end of career.”

Wilkinson said the views of Toulon fly-half stars Australian Giteau and France’s Michalak were taken into account before he decided to play on at the club he joined in 2009.

“These are guys who play inside and outside me and both play in my position too, so there is no better position to have to see if they think I am doing a good job,” he said.

“I also wanted to know where they see their futures. Am I in the way of their future? Am I helping their future? Do they feel comfortable playing alongside me? I was more than willing to hear.

“These are guys for whom I have such great respect, guys from whom you want to hear the negative stuff.

“But they were really honest and I got the impression that they wanted me there.”

Wilkinson stepped down from the international game just over a year ago following a stellar Test career, but his name continues to be linked with the British and Irish Lions squad to tour Australia.

Lions? I’m not sure

While refusing to rule himself out of contention, he admits he has had no contact with head coach Warren Gatland and considers himself a left-field selection.

“The Lions is so exciting,” he said. “I would certainly welcome the opportunity, though I’m not sure why my name would be mentioned.

“I’m not thinking, ‘I’m in with a shout’.

“The young guys in international rugby are the ones taking the sport forward.”

- © AFP, 2013

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