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Gatland won't be handing Wilkinson a late Lions call-up

Only injuries would open the door to the England fly-half’s inclusion, according to the head coach.

Wilkinson kicking for the Lions in 2005.
Wilkinson kicking for the Lions in 2005.
Image: David Davies/PA Wire/Press Association Images

BRITISH AND IRISH Lions head coach Warren Gatland on Monday insisted he won’t ask Jonny Wilkinson to join the forthcoming tour to Australia unless his squad is hit by injuries.

Wilkinson was crowned European player of the year on Sunday to cap a memorable weekend for the English stars, who had kicked Toulon to victory over Clermont Auvergne in the final of the European Cup just 24 hours earlier.

The 33-year-old was asked to tour by Gatland before the 37-man squad was announced on April 30, but Wilkinson rejected the opportunity due to his commitments at Toulon and deteriorating fitness.

While Gatland confirmed that Wilkinson remains an option if either Jonathan Sexton or Owen Farrell are injured, he insists the fly-half’s most recent heroics have failed to convince him another approach is necessary.

“We’ve been through the conversation that we had with Jonny and nothing’s changed on that,” Gatland said.

“If we picked up an injury on tour then maybe there’s a conversation to be had.

“Jonny’s a good player, but we’ve had the conversation about him.”

- © AFP, 2013

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