Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Wilkinson: Team-mates helped me decide

Jonny Wilkinson has been struggling with a groin injury
Jonny Wilkinson has been struggling with a groin injury

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.

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.

"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."

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."

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