Wilkinson refusing to rule out the Lions after Heineken Cup heroics
Jonny Wilkinson is refusing to rule out a return to international rugby after kicking all Toulon's points in a 24-12 victory over Saracens
Jonny Wilkinson is refusing to rule out a romantic return to international rugby with the Lions this summer after starring in Toulon’s 24-12 victory over Saracens in the Heineken Cup semi-final on Sunday.
The 33-year-old retired from England duty following the departure of Martin Johnson from the Twickenham hotseat and the 2011 World Cup debacle in New Zealand.
Wilkinson has resurrected his career in France with big-spending Toulon and in Heineken Cup last-four clash the veteran stole the show, scoring all of his side’s 24 points.
In the process he eclipsed the performance of England’s current No.1 fly-half Owen Farrell of Saracens, who is also a rival for the Lions No10 jersey.
Ireland fly-half Jonny Sexton seems certain to tour Australia this summer as the premier outside-half but Lions boss Warren Gatland seems as though he has a decision to make over whether to take Toby Flood, Wilkinson, Farrell or Wales’ Dan Biggar as the back-up men.
There’s no doubting Wilkinson has inflicted some high-profile defeats on Australia during his illustrious career – but will Gatland be tempted by the veteran.
In 2005, Sir Clive Woodward took a clutch of his retired World Cup winners on the Lions tour to New Zealand – the likes of Neil Back and Lawrence Dallaglio – and the move backfired horribly with a 3-0 Series defeat.
“Young players like Farrell, Toby Flood, Wales’ Dan Biggar and Ireland’s Jonny Sexton are taking rugby forward. It’s their era,” said the 33-year-old.
“I want those guys to experience that because they deserve it. I’m digging my fingernails in and hanging on really, and watching these guys is what it’s all about.”