England v Wales, Twickenham, August 6
Wilkinson not ready to say goodbye just yet
August 5, 2011
England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson might be making his last appearance at Twickenham on Saturday © Getty Images
Jonny Wilkinson has admitted that he is trying to avoid dwelling on the fear that Saturday's Test against Wales could be his last appearance at Twickenham in an England shirt.
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has decreed that after next month's World Cup in New Zealand, players plying their trade outside England will not be eligible for selection for the national team.
Given that Wilkinson, 32, recently signed a new deal with French club side Toulon, it now seems highly unlikely that, after Saturday's Test, the legendary fly-half will ever again represent his country at Twickenham.
"It's a tough one," he said. "It has been an incredible part of my life to date. To have been on that field so many times and have experienced all the highs and lows has been amazing.
"The thought of not having it any more is not one I wish to consider. It is a difficult situation. You don't want to deal with that kind of emotion."
However, Wilkinson has not given up on the hope that the RFU might ditch their new selection policy and continue picking players solely on merit rather than location.
"I don't like this idea of restriction," the former Newcastle Falcon said. "I always want to have that open-ended feel to my career. I always like to keep doors open and if I can keep improving, I will keep doing that until someone shuts that door.
"If I am playing in a way where people feel I need to be involved then great - if not, I will just be doing it for Toulon."
Wilkinson has graced Twickenham 39 times since making his debut there in a win over Ireland 13 years ago. However, he insists that he remains as excited now as he was then about playing at the home of English rugby.
"It hasn't changed one bit. In fact, as I get older the adage of taking it one game at a time is gaining more and more truth for me," he said.
"It is becoming about understanding how special these moments are. You start to see the definite nature of what you are doing. When you are young everything seems so open-ended.
"When you get further down the line you realise it is special and you need to embrace it. I have missed it (starting for England) in recent months. All the work, the digging deep and soul searching are for this reason."
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