Wilkinson ponders Toulon future
December 10, 2012
Jonny Wilkinson has enjoyed a new lease of life since swapping the Premiership for the Top 14 © Getty Images
Jonny Wilkinson looks set to sign a new deal with French giants Toulon after revealing he has never been happier in his career.
The 33-year-old fly-half signed a one-year contract extension last year that will expire at the end of the current season but the former England talisman, who has been linked with a return to the Test match stage with the British & Irish Lions next year, has hinted that he is willing to extend his stay in the Top 14 where he has enjoyed a new lease of life since quitting the English Premiership in 2009.
"I have never been as happy as I am to play for Toulon," Wilkinson told Midi Olympique when asked about his plans beyond this season. "Wearing the colours of RCT, representing the region of Toulon is the most beautiful thing in my career. But my decision will be based on what is good of the team. The atmosphere within the group is fantastic, perfect and I am enjoying myself. Currently, Toulon is perfect for me. The coach, the team... everything is perfect."
Toulon, who were beaten in the Top 14 and Amlin Challenge Cup finals last season and are chasing both domestic and Heineken Cup glory this term, are unlikely to hesitate if offered the chance to re-sign Wilkinson, who has also expressed a desire to move into coaching, given his impact and continuing influence on their fortunes and despite the presence of France fly-half Frederic Michalak in their ranks. But they, like Toulon's passionate supporters, face an anxious wait in the next couple of months with a decision expected in February.
"Maybe, we'll see, it is hard to say," added Wilkinson when asked if a new one-year deal was in the offing. "It is a real pleasure to drive to Berg [Toulon's training base] every morning. But I'm 33 years old and will soon be 34. I can just tell you that the most beautiful thing that is happened in my Rugby life is coming to play for Toulon."
Wilkinson's immediate focus will be on Toulon's return clash with Sale Sharks this weekend having helped his side extend their unbeaten run in this season's Heineken Cup with a 12-point haul in their 17-6 victory at Salford City Stadium on Saturday. Beyond that there is also Toulon's quest for a first Top 14 title since 1992, with the big-spenders currently top of the table.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton
Kiwi coaches can be found far and wide across the globe, and Murray Mexted believes the All Blacks benefit every bit as much as their rivals
Clermont, Toulon, player burnout, Sam Burgess and a farewell to Adams Park - Monday Maul looks back at the weekend's action