Jonny Wilkinson puts retirement on hold
April 16, 2013
Jonny Wilkinson will continue to wear the red and black of Toulon next season © Getty Images
Former England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson has put pen to paper on a new one-year deal with Toulon while Australian winger Drew Mitchell has reportedly agreed to join the Top 14 giants.
Wilkinson had previously admitted he was considering retiring at the end of the season but following persuasion from both his team-mates and owner Mourad Boudjellal, Wilkinson has committed to the side for next season.
The World Cup-winning No.10 slotted all of Toulon's 21 points against Leicester Tigers in their victorious Heineken Cup quarter-final and has played a key role in guiding them to the top of the Top 14. Boudjellal has been a long-standing fan of Wilkinson and prior to his decision to re-sign, the owner admitted he was hopeful of keeping the fly-half on the field.
Boudjellal said: "When you have a legend in your squad, you want to push back as far as you can the moment you make a statue of him. At his age (33), it is still a little early to make a statue of Jonny. I think he easily has another season in his legs."
And for Wilkinson, one of the key considerations for whether to re-sign or not, was his team-mates. "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," Wilkinson told the Times. "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."
And it looks likely that Wilkinson will be joined at Toulon next year by experienced Wallabies winger Mitchell. The 63-cap back said on Monday that he would decide between an offer from Toulon and his current side the Waratahs and reports in the Australian press suggest he has agreed to join the Top 14 club on a two-year deal.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton