Fletcher insists Wilkinson is not fit to play
February 15, 2007
Newcastle boss John Fletcher has angrily rejected any suggestion England star Jonny Wilkinson is being "rested" for Sunday's Guinness Premiership clash at Bristol.
The Falcons announced earlier this week that Wilkinson, who will be on Six Nations duty in Ireland next week, would miss the west-country trip.
But Fletcher insists that decision was based purely on Wilkinson's physical condition, rather than any desire to give him a breather.
England head coach Brian Ashton hopes the entire England starting line-up selected for Croke Park will not be involved in club games this weekend.
The clubs though, are under no obligation to rest players, and Newcastle have included England replacements Toby Flood and Mathew Tait in the team that will tackle Bristol.
Fletcher said: "I thought the statement we put out on Tuesday was pretty clear, but it seems to have been misinterpreted by a lot of people.
"Nowhere in the statement did it say Jonny was being rested, and nowhere in the statement did it say the decision was made in consultation with England. It was a joint decision made between myself, Jonny and our medical team.
"The decision was that Jonny is not fit to play.
"He hasn't trained with the team this week. He is carrying bumps, bruises and strains after two massive (Six Nations) games, and the decision was that he was not ready for selection.
"That is the reason he hasn't been picked. Had he been available, he would have been involved, it is as straightforward as that.
"I have not had a conversation with England, other than to tell them what decision we had reached as a club."
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points
The latest Week in Pictures brings you a selection of the best snaps from around the rugby world with scantily clad ladies, O'Driscoll and snow all featuring
"If I miss the first kick of the match, it shouldn't have any impact on the second. They are different entities." Tom Hamilton talks to Northampton Saints' Stephen Myler
It's time for those running Welsh rugby to stop trying to prevent its players heading to France and to start planning a future without them, writes Martin Williamson