English Rugby
Kay: Wilkinson has made right decision
ESPNscrum Staff
December 13, 2011
England's Jonny Wilkinson strikes a familiar pose, England training session, Carisbrook, Dunedin, New Zealand, September 6, 2011
Jonny Wilkinson strikes the familiar pose © Getty Images

Former England lock Ben Kay believes Jonny Wilkinson chose the right moment to call time on his international career.

Kay played alongside Wilkinson in the 2003 World Cup triumph with the fly-half kicking the winning drop-goal in extra-time. And with England facing a new dawn under the guidance of Stuart Lancaster, Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell, the trio look set to call on youth rather than experience. With this in mind, Kay believes that Wilkinson, who announced his Test retirement on Monday, has made the right decision to end his international aspirations.

"With England looking towards the future and following Stuart Lancaster's declaration that he is likely to look towards the younger players, I think Jonny's probably - as he always did with his career - made the right decision to call time on his international career," Kay said in his column for ESPNscrum.

"I think from a non-selfish point of view it was time that he made plans for the future and from an England point of view, it will give the likes of Owen Farrell and George Ford coming through a chance to shine. And I think Toby Flood will also benefit from not having to look over his shoulder to see whether Jonny's warming up or not.

"I also believe that he probably would not have been around for the next World Cup and due to him suffering from injury throughout his career; his decision has probably prolonged his time with Toulon."

But Kay will remember Wilkinson as one of the "nicest people you'd meet" and also the most dedicated rugby player he appeared alongside. Kay said: "I have never met a man with the same work ethic as him and an example I can give you is back in 2007 when pre-World Cup we endured a brutally hard training regime with the Royal Marines before going out into Portugal for some hard warm weather training.

"We were absolutely flogged but were then given four or five days off. We, as a side, decided to go out and have some beers. Mike Catt and I sheepishly tried to sneak back into the hotel at about six in the morning and bumped into Jonny practising his kicking on the pitch. That showed the difference in dedication between Jonny and myself."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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