Tag Archives: career

Jonny Wilkinson extends Toulon contract

Wilkinson extends Toulon contract after calling time on England career

Jonny Wilkinson has extended his contract with Toulon by a year until 2013, having retired from international rugby earlier this week.

The 32-year-old fly-half, who won the World Cup with England in 2003, announced he was quitting the international scene after winning 91 caps for his country and six caps for the British and Irish Lions.

A statement on Toulon”s official website read: “After having taken the decision to stop his international career with England, Jonny Wilkinson has taken another important decision.

Allez! Wilkinson will continue his career with French club Toulon

Allez! Wilkinson will continue his career with French club Toulon

“Jonny Wilkinson has officially extended his contract with Rugby Club Toulonnais for an extra season.

“Until now, Wilkinson had a contract until the end of this season, with an option to extend it by another season. This option has been exercised, which means “Wilko” will be back in the Red and Black in 2013.”

Jonny Wilkinson retirement: The contenders to fill his boots for England

So, who are the contenders to fill Wilkinson”s boots at No 10 for England

Now that Jonny Wilkinson has hung his boots up at international level, England”s No 10 jersey is vacant.

Sportsmail assesses the contenders to take over as fly-half from the legendary Sergeant Wilko.

Au revoir: Jonny Wilkinson will now concentrate on his club career with Toulon

Au revoir: Jonny Wilkinson will now concentrate on his club career with Toulon

Favourite: Toby Flood Wildcard: Danny Cipriani Toby Flood:
The Clear Favourite

AGE: 26
CLUB: LEICESTER
CAPS: 46

Had been the man in possession of the conductor”s role for more than a year leading up to the World Cup, only to be usurped at the moment of truth. Showed in the last autumn series and Six Nations he can unlock defences by standing flat, attacking the line and unleashing strike runners around him. Will be first choice again.

Danny Cipriani:
The Wildcard

AGE: 24
CLUB: MELBOURNE REBELS CAPS: 7

There is no suggestion at this stage that the flamboyant former Wasps prodigy is on the verge of an imminent return to favour.

Instead, England”s lost sensation must have a fantastic season in Super 15 and keep out of trouble, then maybe a rare attacking talent will be seen in Tests again.

Old hand: Charlie Hodgson Understudy: Rory Clegg Charlie Hodgson: The Old Hand

AGE: 31
CLUB: SARACENS
CAPS: 36

England career seemed over in 2008 when his defensive frailty was exposed by New Zealand. But worked on his tackling and was recalled. A strong kicker and has been arguably the best distributor in the English game for years.

Rory Clegg: The Understudy

AGE: 21
CLUB: HARLEQUINS
CAPS: 0

Born in Hannover, Germany, was once Wilkinson”s understudy at Newcastle, before moving south in 2009. He has represented England at Under 16, 18, 20 and Saxons level and has remarkable goal-kicking composure.

Young pretender: Owen Farrell History boy: George Ford Owen Farrell:
The Young Pretender

AGE: 20
CLUB: Saracens
CAPS: 0

Andy Farrell”s son has already played a big role in a title win. After a loan spell at Bedford, he returned to Sarries and gave a series of composed displays. Kicked 17 points in the Premiership final win over Leicester.

George Ford:
The History Boy

AGE: 18
CLUB: LEICESTER
CAPS: 0

Displays at the junior World Cup in July saw him become the first Englishman to win the IRB”s Young Player of the Year award.

This nimble runner and assured kicker guided England Under 20s to a Six Nations Grand Slam.

Why Martin O"Neill"s Sunderland appointment was greeted with the sound of silence

Why O”Neill”s Sunderland appointment was greeted with the sound of silence

The silence from Martin O”Neill”s mobile was telling.

There was no explosion of good luck text messages from fellow managers when news of his appointment as manager of Sunderland became public knowledge. But that was no more thanhe expected.

/12/10/article-0-0F1E270800000578-140_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Bit of a loner: Martin O”Neill takes training at Sunderland” class=”blkBorder” />

Bit of a loner: Martin O”Neill takes training at Sunderland

“I”m not in anybody”s little clique,” he said, adding with a wry smile: “There”s another word for that. It”s called unpopularity.

“There are one or two managers I would speak to along the way and who I would consider friends, but that wouldn”t cover the majority of them. It isn”t a problem to me. There have been a number [of messages congratulating him on the Sunderland job]. There have been a number who have done it and, of course, there”ll be a number who didn”t do it.”

Not that O”Neill seems the least bit perturbed – and it is not difficult to understand why.

Warming up: Martin O

Warming up: Martin O”Neill is glad to be back in management

Especially when, as he tackles what just might be the biggest challenge of his managerial career, he can count on the unqualified support of the most important person in his life, wife Geraldine.

It will mean swapping the leafy lanes of Buckinghamshire for the raw beauty of the North-East coast, but undoubtedly the success of Team O”Neill will begin at home.

Key man: Niall Quinn was instrumental in recruiting Martin O

Key man: Niall Quinn was instrumental in recruiting Martin O”Neill

And it is clear that the barely contained enthusiasm he feels at being back in harness after a year and a bit out of work has, as its core, the fact that Geraldine is clear of the cancer that clouded family life.

O”Neill turned down the chance to manage Sunderland, the club he supported as a boy, five years ago because his wife was too ill to make the move.

When the club”s owner and chairman, Ellis Short, came knocking again, O”Neill was almost bowled over – and Geraldine was behind him all the way.

“She”s back in good health and she”s delighted I”ve chosen this football club, genuinely delighted,” O”Neill said.

“She”ll move up here. Our two daughters are grown up and can fend for themselves – or so I think.”

Did he believe it was his destiny to manage Sunderland O”Neill”s response barely disguises his feelings.

“You know, I”m nearly going to say yes to that now that I”m in the job,” he said. “I didn”t want to have prolonged discussions with Mr Short in case he changed his mind.”

Double team: Niall Quinn with Sunderland chairman (right) Ellis Short

Double team: Niall Quinn with Sunderland chairman (right) Ellis Short

Although Short handled all the negotiations, the approach was made by Niall Quinn.

Despite suggestions that the Irishman”s influence at the club has waned following his switch from chairman to “overseas development”, his role in O”Neill”s appointment was crucial.

“In many aspects, having talked with Niall, I think his role hasn”t changed a great deal,” observed O”Neill.

Proud day: O

Proud day: O”Neill on signing for Sunderland

“I think he”s going out to try to get better deals for the football club – and, of course, there”s nobody better at doing that. When Niall phoned to say Mr Short wanted to meet me, I was incredibly excited. It was an opportunity and I didn”t want to ruin it. He said, “I would like you to be the manager”, and I was delighted to be asked. That doesn”t mean there weren”t other candidates. I”m quite sure there were some excellent ones.”

Whenever a manager”s job was available, be it former clubs Aston Villa and Leicester City, or Fulham to mention a few, his was always the name at the top of the list.

Yet O”Neill was always going to wait for what he believed was the right reason for getting him away from his armchair viewing of the game.

Back in the day: Martin O

Back in the day: Martin O”Neill in his time as Aston Villa boss

Typically, his sojourn also provided an opportunity for self-analysis.

Had he learned different things about himself

“Absolutely,” he said. “I”ve seen an awful lot of football, albeit from the cosiness of a TV lounge. For a while, you look at it from a normal viewpoint, just watching the game, not taking into any consideration formations or anything, just watching it as a pure fan. Then, of course, you start to analyse players and positions and tactics.

“But the one thing that being out 16 months does give you is time to think about things – about life in general and what you should have done with your time.

Work to do: Sunderland have struggled in recent months

Work to do: Sunderland have struggled in recent months

“If I”d known the day I left Aston Villa that it was going to be 16 months out I would have sat down and attempted to put some things right, learn a different language. My Latin doesn”t come in handy nowadays, doesn”t help you get a result anyway.”

Had he ever thought that he might not get back

“No, I didn”t. I didn”t tout for jobs, and I must admit that there was a tribunal going on at that time with Aston Villa which was time-consuming, more than I had envisaged. So, for a number of reasons, not getting back in wasn”t something I really concerned myself about.

“However, the longer you stay out, the more people tend to overlook you. You still have to be asked to do the job.”

O”Neill”s peripheral role last weekend at Wolves failed to halt Sunderland”s disturbing slide towards the relegation zone.

He knows he will be measured by whether he can find an instant remedy for the club”s ailments, starting with the visit of struggling Blackburn.

Vision for the future: But Sunderland will need to improve rapidly under Martin O

Vision for the future: But Sunderland will need to improve rapidly under Martin O”Neill

“It”s a great challenge and I”m ready for the challenge,” he insisted. “In this day and age, you”re in the results business. You have to win games, and the sooner we start doing that the better.

“Of course, that”s an ambition. I”m not saying that we are capable; when you look at some of the matches we have coming up, I think they”re all difficult. But we need to start winning, and the sooner we win, the sooner people start being on your side.

“I”d love to be here for a long time. Genuinely. And there”s only one way for me to attempt to be here for a long time … and that”s to try to win.”

Carlos Tevez turmoil as PSG agree 21m fee with Manchester City

Tevez turmoil as PSG agree 21m fee with Manchester City

Manchester City have agreed a 21million deal to sell Carlos Tevez to Paris Saint-Germain. And that will spark a new war with Tevez, who wants to join Italian giants AC Milan.

City owner Sheik Mansour is understood to have a close relationship with the Qatari owners of the French club.

Out in the cold: Carlos Tevez has been frozen out by Manchester City

Out in the cold: Carlos Tevez has been frozen out by Manchester City

And Roberto Mancini, City’s manager, is in no mood to accommodate the wishes of Tevez, who is currently in Argentina, allegedly without the club’s permission.

Sheik Mansour has always backed Mancini in the battle of wills between player and coach, which exploded in the infamous incident at Bayern Munich when Tevez appeared to refuse orders from Mancini to warm up for action when losing a Champions Leaguetie.

In a hole: Carols Tevez has spent more time playing golf than football recently

In a hole: Carols Tevez has spent more time playing golf than football recently

AC Milan want to take the 27-year-oldon loan in January, with a view to their own 21m deal in the summer. But City, who paid Manchester United 32m for the striker in July 2009, are adamant that they require a straight cash deal, with any provisionalloan out of the question.

Listen up: City want Carlos Tevez to agree a move to PSG

Listen up: City want Carlos Tevez to agree a move to PSG

Juventus, run by the Agnelli family of Fiat fame, have in the past 48 hours expressed interest in buying Tevez outright. But that prompted the Parisians to press their own claims.

Now Tevez is likely to react angrily to the latest twist in his troubled career, arguing that he cannot be forced to join any club against his wishes. But if that leaves him out in the cold, playing no football, then City are said to be only too happy to oblige.

The club hope that, given the choice of a new chance of competitive football and a new start at a rich European club, as opposed to the humiliating prospect of further training alone in Manchester, Tevez will comply with City’s wishes and move to Paris.

Owner Paul Barber puts Denman among the pantheon of great chasers

Barber puts Denman among the pantheon of great chasers

Owner Paul Barber hailed Denman as “one of the greats” after injury forced connections to call time on the legendary staying chaser”s stellar career.

The Paul Nicholls-trained 11-year-oldwas embarking upon what was likely to be his final campaign, which was due to begin in the Lexus Chase, a race he won four years ago, at Leopardstown on December 28.

Bowing out: Sam Thomas lands the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup with Denman

Bowing out: Sam Thomas lands the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup with Denman

But once a tendon injury was discovered after a routine piece of work earlier this week, Barber and Nicholls had no hesitation in retiring the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup and dual Hennessy Gold Cup winner.

“He”s been one of the greats,” said Barber. “Two great races stick out for me, obviously his Gold Cup win of 2008, but also his second win in the Hennessy – I thought that was a huge performance.

“We”ve decided to retire him as there was no way I was ever going to take any chances with him.

“He”s given us so much pleasure – he”s been a wonderful horse for us.

“I”ve had a lot of good horses and I would never talk horses like See More Business (1999 Gold Cup winner) down, but Denman is with them.”

Golden years: Nicholls (right) holding the Gold Cup with part owner Barber and Denman

Golden years: Nicholls (right) holding the Gold Cup with part owner Barber and Denman

Denman enjoyed a successful career in novice hurdles but marked himself as a real star when switching to fences and destroying his rivals by upwards of 10 lengths in the Royal & SunAlliance Chase at the 2007 Cheltenham Festival. Nicholls” inmate won his first Hennessy nine months later, after which he secured victory in the Lexus Chase in Ireland on his next start.

But his finest hour came in March 2008 when he revelled in a showdown with stablemate Kauto Star in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, with Denman galloping to glory by seven lengths under Sam Thomas – although his old rival reversed that form in 2009.

Guts and glory: Denman lacked nothing in the fortitude department

Guts and glory: Denman lacked nothing in the fortitude department

Thomas said: “It”s a sad day, but I am very glad that his injury happened on the gallops and not on the racecourse, because it could have been much worse.

“The 2008 Gold Cup was the best day of my life – he was a great horse to be associated with.

“He doesn”t owe anyone anything and he”s very close to my heart.

“He was a horse who would always try his best every time.

“He”s going to have a long and happy retirement.”

Denman turned in a truly memorable weight-carrying performance to win a second Hennessy in November 2009, competing off a 13lb higher mark than in 2007 and giving nearly a stone and more to each of his rivals.

Jockey Ruby Walsh, who was on board at Newbury and rode Denman to six other victories, said: “It”s better happening at 11 rising 12 than five rising six. “He was a wonderful horse and a lucky horse for the owners.

“He was very well trained, had some wonderful days and it was a pleasure to have ridden him on occasion.”

His 2009 Hennessy success was to be Denman”s final victory, although he chased home Imperial Commander in the 2010 Gold Cup and filled the same position behind Long Run last March.

“It”s a relatively small injury and if he was a younger horse he”d definitely be back next season,” explained Nicholls.

“But it”s better it happens at home than blow a tendon on a racecourse.

The greatest day: Denman gave former owner Harry Findlay (right) his greatest moment in racing when landing the Hennessy Gold Cup

The greatest day: Denman gave former owner Harry Findlay (right) his greatest moment in racing when landing the Hennessy Gold Cup

“He owes nobody nothing, he”s been a fantastic horse and he”ll have the best of everything now.

“Having come back from a major heart problem, a lot of horses wouldn”t have done that.

“He astounded me after the problem as he ran moderately at Kempton and then finished second in the Gold Cup. If it hadn”t have been for that, he might well have won another Gold Cup.

“He never showed you much at home. He”s been to Cheltenham for the last four Gold Cups with Kauto Star so perhaps we”ll have to bring him as Kauto”s mate this time.

“He”s been a great horse and you can”t say enough about him.”

Steve Davies to be named in England squad to face Pakistan

EXCLUSIVE: Davies handed England recall for Test series against Pakistan

Steve Davies will be handed a chance to revive his international career when he is named in England”s tour party for the Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

Davies, ruled out of the World Cup squad when England had a late change of heart over their wicketkeeping plans, will travel to Dubai next month as Matt Prior”s deputy, a role he filled during the Ashes before he was dropped in the one-day leg of the Australian tour.

The Surrey man”s selection solves one of the few problems for England before they name their squad for a sensitive tour that will attract added scrutiny because of the jailing of three Pakistan players for the spot-fixing offences that marred the last meetings of the sides.

Hitting back: Davies has become a more confident player

Hitting back: Davies has become a more confident player

Probable England squad

Strauss (capt), Cook, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Morgan, Prior (wkt), Bresnan, Broad, Swann, Anderson, Tremlett, Finn, Panesar, Davies (wkt), Bopara.

Davies is a talented keeper-batsman who has thrived at The Kia Oval but England had concerns about his temperament before ruthlessly jettisoning him, believing him a little meek to become the leader of the team in the field, as they expect their keeper to be.

Yet since he revealed he was gay after the Australia tour, Davies”s true personality has emerged and he will be a lot more confident and relaxed on his return to the England set-up.

The move leaves Jonny Bairstow, who was widely expected to be elevated to the Test squad as back-up keeper, competing for one of only two places – that of reserve batsman and second spinner – up for grabs today before the selectors finalise their 16-man party.

Bairstow, the pick of the many emerging talents in the domestic game, is competing with Ravi Bopara, the man in possession, and possibly Samit Patel to support the established top six.

Bairstow and Bopara both had a poor time on the one-day tour in India in October but the Yorkshireman has a lot more credit in the bank than Bopara, who may be running out of chances to prove he can ever transfer his ability to the international arena.

Patel did well with bat and ball in India but, as Andy Flower told Sportsmail last month, there are still concerns about his fielding and fitness, and he will have to prove to England that he really is serious about getting into top shape if he is to make the cut.

Monty Panesar had a very good season with Sussex and even though leg-spinner Scott Borthwick, another promising emerging talent, offers more with the bat and in the field, it will be a surprise if Panesar”s left-arm spin is not included.

Stumped: Davies

Stumped: Davies” England career took a knock when he was omitted from World Cup squad

Stumped: Davies

There could even be room for Panesar and Patel in the squad to give England options on what are expected to be slow, turgid pitches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

England are very keen to go into the first Test, starting on January 17, with Eoin Morgan in their team because he is such a good player of spin. With Morgan at six and Prior at seven, England will have room for only two of the five fast bowlers expected to travel if they go into the series with two specialist spinners.

The most imaginative selection England could make would be that of Bairstow, who has shown a rare batting ability, particularly when playing a starring role on his full one-day debut against India at Cardiff, and is capable of following in the footsteps of his late father David in becoming a keeping all-rounder at the highest level.

Bairstow is a mature, level-headed character who is trying to learn from the mistakes he made in India on a return visit to the subcontinent with the Performance Squad, where he is practising and playing alongside England captain Andrew Strauss.

The question now is whether Strauss wants him in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for Test as well as limited-overs cricket. Temperament is crucial at the highest level and it is where Bairstow scores highest, as he showed on debut in Wales with England in danger of losing to India. There, he hit a brilliant unbeaten 41 off 21 balls.

“You can”t think about the occasion,” Bairstow says now. “You”ve just got to go in there as if you are back at school. I know it”s completely different but you have to think of it as just another innings.

“You say to yourself, “Right, there”s a guy running in and he”s 22 yards away trying to knock my head off “. You either face up or you don”t. There”s no time to think where you are or how important it is. You can”t think about who is bowling at you.

“You have your game plan in your head but you take everything out of the equation. If the ball goes in the air you try to catch it and when you”re batting you try to execute your shot as best you can.”

Mixed fortunes: Monty could be back in the fold but Bairstow may have to wait his turn

Mixed fortunes: Monty could be back in the fold but Bairstow may have to wait his turn

Mixed fortunes: Monty could be back in the fold but Bairstow may have to wait his turn

It is a simple philosophy from an impressive young man whose story serves as an inspiration in the desperately sad aftermath of the death of Gary Speed.

For Bairstow”s hugely popular father took his own life at the age of 46, 13 years ago, and Jonny has grown into a cricketer and a person of whom David would be immensely proud.

The subject of David has understandably been off limits during interviews with Jonny on his emergence as a serious chip off the old block, but Bairstow Jnr was considered ready to talk about his dad during that England trip to India in October.

“I have some very fond memories of him, things that people have said,” explained Bairstow. “He was a great character and did a lot for the game.

“I remember going out to Barbados and playing on the beach with him and the outfield at the Kensington Oval. Fantastic memories that I will always cherish. Me being picked for England like he was is a very proud moment for our family and it is hopefully something that will continue.”

Bairstow was just eight when David died. “Perhaps it was easier for me, being so young, to deal with it because I didn”t really know everything that was going on,” he said. “But my mum wasn”t very well so it wasn”t easy for the family.

“It took a lot of hard work and effort to get everything back on track. We”re all pleased with the way things are going. We all pull together and that makes us stronger as a family.”

The pinnacle for that family would be for Bairstow Jnr to make his first Test squad, but the recall of Davies means the gloves will have to remain off for Bairstow for now.

Shane Williams pondering an extension to Ospreys contract

Williams pondering an extension to Ospreys contract

Shane Williams says he will make a decision on whether to extend his playing contract with the Ospreys within “the next couple of weeks”.

The 34-year-old winger brought down the curtain on his Test career in memorable fashion by extending his Welsh try scoring record to 58 with his touchdown in the final moments of Saturday”s 24-18 Millennium Stadium defeat to Australia.

Fitting end: Williams brought his international career down in style with a try against Australia

Fitting end: Williams brought his international career down in style with a try against Australia

Having made the decision to step down from the international game Williams will now turn his focus solely to the Ospreys, the region he has played for since their inception in 2003.

The arch-finisher currently has 18 months remaining on his deal with the Liberty Stadium side, but Williams has said he has been offered an extension that would keep him playing beyond his 37th birthday until the summer of 2014.

Williams has previously stated his desire to remain as part of the Ospreys set-up after he decides to hang up his boots for good, but is still weighing up whether to extend his playing career beyond 2013.

He said: “My affiliation is with the Ospreys, it has been for a long time and I would love to continue to be affiliated with them when I finish.

It

It”s been emotional: Williams (centre) sheds a tear during the national anthem flanked by Ryan Jones (left) and Scott Andrew

“If I am unlucky enough not to be part of a successful Ospreys side that wins the Heineken Cup then I would like to be involved after I finish to make sure the Ospreys win it, even if it”s not with me playing.

“It”s a difficult position because I have said in two years it will be the end of my contract. The option is there, it is something I have thought about and it is not something I have thought about lightly.

“I would love to remain with the Ospreys as long as I can but as far as a playing contract goes I don”t know at the moment and it”s something I will think about and hopefully sort out within the next couple of weeks.”

While Williams” superb solo finish against the Wallabies has led some to question whether he is leaving the Test arena prematurely, the Amman United product has always insisted that he has had no second thoughts about bowing out of the game”s elite echelon.

Dadi cool: Williams walks with his children as he retires from International rugby

Dadi cool: Williams walks with his children as he retires from International rugby

Fond farewell: Williams waves to the crowd with his children

Williams” current Ospreys deal happens to end just before the British and Irish Lions tour Australia, but the three-quarter believes making a third tour would be “a step too far” and cannot see himself following the example of the likes of Neil Back and Lawrence Dallaglio, who made themselves available for the 2005 trip to New Zealand despite having stood down from England duty.

“I certainly enjoyed my Lions tours and I would love to think I would be playing good enough rugby in 2013 but I think it would be a step too far. I think some people would not be too happy if I started playing for the Lions in 2013 having not played for Wales,” he said.

“It is a fantastic experience and I will be definitely be over there enjoying myself and doing something in other regards but that is a long time away I doubt it very much (that I will be there playing) to be honest with you.”

Thanks for the memories: Williams salutes the crowd before his final international

Thanks for the memories: Williams salutes the crowd before his final international

While Williams will no longer get the chance to wear the famous red jersey, he will still have a presence when Wales begin their RBS 6 Nations campaign against Ireland in Dublin on February 5.

Williams has taken advantage of a new initiative from the Welsh Rugby Union for supporters to have their images displayed on the number on the back of the players” jerseys during the tournament, and the winger”s image will be carried on the number 14 shirt, which will be worn by George North if the Scarlets flier is available for selection.

Williams said: “It”s nice to think that for the Six Nations at least, there will still be a small part of me on the wing for Wales and I think this is a great way of being able to show support for the boys.”

For your chance to appear on the Wales playing jerseys for the duration of the 2012 RBS 6 Nations, visit www.wru.co.uk.

Rory Lamont quit Toulon for Glasgow Warriors over Scotland warning

Lamont reveals he quit Toulon for Glasgow after warning from Scotland boss Robinson

Rory Lamont admits he had to quit Toulon after Scotland coach Andy Robinson warned a lack of match action could place his international career in jeopardy.

The 29-year-old – who has 26 caps – re-signed for Glasgow Warriors last week after negotiating his release from the French side.

Lamont cited his lack of playing time for his decision to leave after claiming he was frozen out by new coach Bernard Laporte, who replaced Philippe St Andre in September.

Back in blue: Glasgow Warriors have re-signed full-back Rory Lamont

Back in blue: Glasgow Warriors have re-signed full-back Rory Lamont

Lamont held talks with Robinson about his position following his return from New Zealand. He said: “I spoke to him a short while after getting back from the World Cup and let him know my situation at Toulon. He told me I need to be playing rugby.

“It planted the seed that if I couldn”t play at Toulon I had to see about getting loaned out or finding another club.

“I want to play in the Six Nations and I knew if I stayed at Toulon that was a definite no. I would not even be giving myself a chance.”

Lamont added: “I came back from the World Cup and I wasn”t even close to getting selected. It was clear that there would have to be three or four injuries for them to put me into the 22. I thought it would be best to offer them the chance to release me and eventually they agreed.”

La sortie: Lamont

La sortie: Lamont”s French adventure is over

After sanctioning his release, Toulon accused Lamont of refusing to integrate with the rest of the squad. He said: “I was happy they let me go. I wasn”t happy with what they said inthe process of letting me go, which was completely untrue and unfair.

“It really surprised me that they came out and said that. They”ve got their own place to look after and they”ve got to look after the team and they”ve got an image to uphold.

“I suppose it doesn”t look good when a senior player is leaving midway through the season. For me, it was just purely a rugby decision. I loved my team-mates and I got on with them really well – I just wasn”t getting any game-time.”

The full-back says he would welcome being thrown straight into Sunday”s Heineken Cup clash against Montpellier despite a lack of recent match action.

He said: “I haven”t played much rugby, I”ve played two games since the last game of last season with Toulon – against Italy and Georgia. That”s not a lot of rugby in six or seven months but I”ve been training a hell of a lot in that time.

“These games will be a little bit like a pre-season for me but with a lot more pressure. If I”m selected, I”ll be confident of performing and doing a good job.”

Lamont had a previous spell with the Warriors between 2004 and 2007 before moving to Sale Sharks.

He added: “I”d like to think I”ve improved. I”ve put myself into some testing environments and I feel like I”ve grown up a lot. I do feel like I”m a much better player and I understand the game a lot better.”