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Wilkinson close to Toulon deal

Jonny Wilkinson is prepared to challenge England's hardline stance against selecting overseas-based players by signing a new deal to stay at Toulon.

Wilkinson's current contract expires in the summer but Toulon coach Philippe Saint-Andre confirmed his star fly-half is close to agreeing a new deal.

"I can understand where they are coming from and what they're saying," said Wilkinson. "I am happy where I am, it fits the bill for me."

The Rugby Football Union wrote to Wilkinson and the England squad a fortnight ago announcing their "absolute intention" to only pick players from domestic clubs following the 2011 World Cup.

That would either force England to back down and pick Wilkinson under their "exceptional circumstances" clause, or signal the end of his glittering international career.

He added: "For me, in my situation at the moment, my main aim is to keep getting better and I made a move (to Toulon) a year and a half ago to try to continue to do that.

"I want to carry on doing that now. I am enjoying the experience and I'm learning a hell of a lot. I owe a lot to these guys.

"I want to keep getting better day by day. That has always been the overall goal. I will keep doing that and see where it leads me."

Wilkinson, who helped Toulon to a 19-13 Heineken Cup victory over London Irish on Sunday, is two games into a return from the shoulder injury which forced him to miss England's four November internationals.

"It's something I don't want to get involved in. I'm just one player in this sort of situation and there are others in the same situation," Wilkinson added. "I do want to keep getting better and that means playing at the peak of the game. That stays the same."

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