Wilkinson turned down Lions offer
April 30, 2013
The Toulon fly-half will be on standby for the tour of Australia.
A fixture clash between the Top 14 final in France and the Lions' first tour game against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on June 1 appeared to have scuppered Wilkinson's chances of a third Lions tour despite a superb performance to propel Toulon past Saracens in their Heineken Cup semi-final clash on Sunday. But Gatland still approached the World Cup winner about being part of the 37-man squad that will travel Down Under in the hope he would commit himself to the Lions.
"The reason I rang him was to find out his availability and to see if he could commit himself to us," Gatland said. "He couldn't commit to us when we fly out to Hong Kong and I fully respect that. He respected the call and was honoured to receive it. He was honest about himself and said 'I'm hanging on with my fingernails here at the moment and I probably need another operation'."
But Gatland has left the door open for the former England fly-half. "He said he couldn't commit 100% because of his situation at Toulon," he added. "He did say was that he was struggling physically and his body was just about holding together. You never know if you pick up a few injuries what's going to happen later on in the tour."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game
Amy Perrett, the Australian referee who whistled the Women's Rugby World Cup final after handling only six Tests, talks to Jamie Lyall