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Jonny Wilkinson signs one-year contract extension to prolong career at Toulon

Wilkinson signs one-year contract extension to prolong career at Toulon

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

11:20 GMT, 30 March 2013

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UPDATED:

11:20 GMT, 30 March 2013

Jonny Wilkinson has revealed he canvassed the opinions of fellow fly-half stars Matt Giteau and Frederic Michalak before electing to extend his career for a further year.

The 33-year-old England World Cup winner spent the winter debating whether to continue his successful stint at wealthy French club Toulon or retire.

The pain of a long-standing groin problem was tipping the balance towards retirement, but following the success of a recent operation, he says another season is now in his sights.

On the up: Jonny Wilkinson has led Toulon into the Heineken Cup quarter finals this season

On the up: Jonny Wilkinson has led Toulon into the Heineken Cup quarter finals this season

St George: Wilkinson plays alongside Englishmen Andrew Sheridan, Simon Shaw and the Armitage brothers

St George: Wilkinson plays alongside Englishmen Andrew Sheridan, Simon Shaw and the Armitage brothers

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 team-mates Giteau and Michalak were taken into account before he decided to play on.

'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.

Crunch match: Toulon face an tough quarter final in the south of France when they host Leicester

Crunch match: Toulon face an tough quarter final in the south of France when they host Leicester

'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.'

Champagne moment: Wilkinson will always be remembered for his drop-goal to win the 2003 World Cup

Champagne moment: Wilkinson will always be remembered for his drop-goal to win the 2003 World Cup

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.

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.'

Honoured: Wilkinson won an MBE for his exploits at the World Cup

Honoured: Wilkinson won an MBE for his exploits at the World Cup

Jonny Wilkinson might retire at the end of the season with eye on possible Lions swansong

Wilkinson could retire at the end of the season with eye on possible Lions swansong

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UPDATED:

17:00 GMT, 19 December 2012

Former England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson may retire from rugby at the end of the season after admitting he will decide on his future in February.

The 33-year-old retired from international rugby after last year's World Cup having won 91 caps for England and the British and Irish Lions.

He has helped Toulon to first place in France's Top 14 this season but his current contract expires at the end of the season and he has today confessed he will only continue playing if it benefits the French side.

Enlarge

Jonny Wilkinson

Back in form: Wilko is playing some of the best rugby of his career with the French leaders

'I'm capable of carrying on, but it's a delicate balance,' Wilkinson said in an interview with sports daily L'Equipe.

'The question isn't what I would like to do, but what is best for my team. After I've asked myself that question, then I'll think about myself.'

Wilkinson is confident Toulon can win the Heineken Cup this season.
'Can we do the double I say, yes,' Wilkinson said. 'I'm never satisfied, but I'm happy with how we've played. We're heading in the right direction.'

Wilkinson thinks star-studded Toulon, which is packed with proven test players such as flyhalf Frederic Michalak, 91-test veteran Matt Giteau of Australia and former South Africa lock Bakkies Botha, is one of the best he's played in.

Jonny Wilkinson playing for the GB and Irish Lions

Lionheart: Wilkinson could be given the chance to finish his career playing with the Lions in Australia

'Everyone knows their role,” Wilkinson said. 'The most important thing is the rapport between the players, and that's where we're lucky.'

Should Wilkinson decide to retire at the end of the season, his swansong could be with the Lions tour to Australia in June, if he's selected.

Wilkinson was recently offered encouragement in his bid to be called up after one of Warren Gatland's three assistants Rob Howley confirmed that the fly half was being seriously considered for a place in the Lions squad that will tour in 2013.

Toulon v Sale match report: Armitage brothers to the fore as Sharks suffer nine-try blitz

Toulon 62 Sale 0: Armitage brothers to the fore as Sharks blown away in nine-try blitz

PUBLISHED:

17:59 GMT, 16 December 2012

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UPDATED:

17:59 GMT, 16 December 2012

Sale suffered their heaviest Heineken Cup defeat as Toulon showed their title credentials with a crushing victory at Stade Felix Mayol.

The Top 14 leaders were sensational against the Aviva Premiership's bottom-placed side as they made it four wins from four in Pool Six.

The Armitage brothers, Steffon and Delon, were at the fore for the big-spending French outfit as the Sharks shipped nine tries in suffering a crushing loss.

Blitz: Sale's David Seymour is powerless to stop Toulon scrum half Frederic Michalak touching down near the post in the French side's resounding 62-0 win

Blitz: Sale's David Seymour is powerless to stop Toulon scrum half Frederic Michalak touching down near the post in the French side's resounding 62-0 win

No way through: Toulon's David Kubriashvili (centre) tries to break through a group of Sale players

No way through: Toulon's David Kubriashvili (centre) tries to break through a group of Sale players

Sale held firm for the first 30 minutes on the Cote D'Azur but they were cannon fodder after that as Jean-Charles Orioli, Freddie Michalak – who started ahead of Jonny Wilkinson – Joe van Niekerk (two), Davit Kubriashvili, Rudi Wolf and David Smith joined the Armitage boys on the scoreboard.

It was all Toulon in the early stages but they led just 3-0 after turning down a number of kickable penalties and being regularly rebuffed by a Sale side who initially refused to roll over.

Bakkies Botha appeared to have finally got the game's opening try as the match hit the 25-minute mark but the giant Springbok lock followed Steffon Armitage in seeing the TMO say 'no try' when referee Jon Lacey asked the question.

Delon Armitage then touched down out wide three minutes later only to see the score ruled out due to Matt Giteau's knock-on following a huge hit from Mark Cueto.

Dominant: Danny Cipriani tries to bring down Toulon's Samoan right wing David Smith

Dominant: Danny Cipriani tries to bring down Toulon's Samoan right wing David Smith

Dominant: Frederic Michalak was to the fore as Toulon ran in nine-try and inflicted Sale's heaviest European Cup defeat

Dominant: Frederic Michalak was to the fore as Toulon ran in nine-try and inflicted Sale's heaviest European Cup defeat

Sale finally cracked just past the half-hour, though, when hooker Orioli crashed over at the back of a driving maul. Former London Irish second row Nick Kennedy set the platform with a solid lineout take just five metres out and the rest of the pack completed the training ground exercise by powering forward at an impressive pace to give Orioli his chance.

Michalak added the extras for a 10-0 lead before Pierrick Gunther went close only to see the TMO again rule against Toulon as the pressure on the Sale pack continued to mount.

Michalak then showed his class to really dent Sale hopes four minutes before the break as he slipped outside Danny Cipriani's poor tackle from a five-metre scrum before ducking underneath Will Cliff's last-gasp effort to stretch over by the right-hand post.

The simple conversion pushed Toulon three scores clear at 17-0, leaving the game as good as dead by the interval despite Sale's superb rear-guard efforts in the opening 40 minutes.

Any thoughts Sale might have had of a remarkable comeback were ended just five minutes after the restart when Van Niekerk stepped past Rob Miller for his team's third try after a deft give and take from Steffon Armitage.

On the break: David Smith tries to escape the clutches of the Sale defence

On the break: David Smith tries to escape the clutches of the Sale defence

Grounded: Maxime Mermoz is brought to the floor by Danny Cipriani

Grounded: Maxime Mermoz is brought to the floor by Danny Cipriani

Toulon had the bonus point wrapped up by 50 minutes as Delon Armitage mirrored his brother in producing a wonderful offload to allow Kubriashvili to blast over while Fraser McKenzie was in the sin bin, with Michalak's third and fourth conversions making it 31-0 with nearly half an hour still to play.

Simon Shaw's yellow card threatened to halt Toulon's momentum but it made little difference as Steffon Armitage scored the try his all-round performance deserved as he crashed through Cipriani from two metres out after 58 minutes.

Delon then joined the party just moments later as he showed his footballing skills by chipping through three defenders, tapping on, picking up and diving over for Toulon's sixth score.

Michalak finally missed from the tee with his seventh attempt but he was back on target to claim a 20-point tally when Giteau's weaving run saw Van Niekerk add his second as Toulon hit 50 with 12 minutes left.

Rudi Wolf scored the eighth try after a fine pass from Wilkinson, before Smith completed the rout after picking up the former England star's kick ahead with the final play.

Gethin Jenkins to join Toulon

Jenkins turns back on Cardiff after signing Toulon deal

Prop Gethin Jenkins will join the Welsh player exodus to France next season.

Jenkins has confirmed he is to leave Cardiff Blues, and it is understood he has agreed a two-year contract with Toulon, linking up with a star-studded squad containing the likes of Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Giteau and Bakkies Botha.

On the move: Jenkins has revealed he is leaving Cardiff Blues

On the move: Jenkins has revealed he is leaving Cardiff Blues

Jenkins' Wales colleagues Mike Phillips, James Hook and Lee /02/21/article-0-11AEF255000005DC-381_468x328.jpg” width=”468″ height=”328″ alt=”French fancy: Jenkins will join Jonny Wilkinson at Toulon ” class=”blkBorder” />

French fancy: Jenkins will join Jonny Wilkinson at Toulon

'In the end, they said they couldn't pay me while I was fulfilling international commitments, and so I felt I had no choice.

'I had to think about my future, just like any player or anyone in any walk of life would do.

'I won't leave with any bitterness and I will give the Blues everything between now and the end of this season, just the same as I have always done.

'But after that, it will be time for me to have a fresh start and a new challenge.'

Jenkins, 31, has won 84 caps and played in five Tests for the British and Irish Lions. He will be a cornerstone of the Wales pack in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash against England at Twickenham.