England no longer a goal for Wilko
November 20, 2008
The last time we saw Wilkinson on a rugby field he was being carried off with yet another injury © Getty Images
Jonny Wilkinson has admitted he is no longer motivated by a possible return to the England team - and believes Danny Cipriani will prove a worthy long-term successor.
The World Cup-winning fly-half revealed earlier this year that he had found inner peace through Buddhism, and he claims that his new spiritual outlook has made him reassess his career goals. Wilkinson, 29, was ruled out of England's autumn internationals with a dislocated knee which is set to keep him out of action until next spring.
But when the Newcastle number 10 regains full fitness, he will be perfectly happy to play out the rest of his career out of the spotlight of Test rugby. "If I wanted to play for England I could maybe get back in there like I did before, and I could hang in there for a bit and not really enjoy myself," he told BBC Radio Five Live.
"I could squeeze through a few games and spend the end of the week slumming into my pillow and (trying to) find a way to get through, not get much sleep and work towards the next one, finish my career and work out what to do with myself. Or I can have a fantastic time, with whichever team I'm with, trying to help them get better, and let the best of me come out."
He added: "The key for me is going out there and playing without fear and being the best I can be. If I'm being the best I can be, there is nothing else. It's irrelevant being an England player or not."
With Wilkinson out of the frame for Martin Johnson's team for the foreseeable future, Cipriani and Toby Flood look set to battle it out for the number 10 shirt. Cipriani has been touted as a potentially world-class heir to Wilkinson, although a mediocre performance against Australia last weekend demonstrated how far he still has to go before he can be compared to the likes of Dan Carter and Matt Giteau.
But Wilkinson insists the Wasps fly-half remains an "outstanding" prospect.
"Danny's an explosive character who burst onto the scene with a huge amount of talent, and that talent is ready to come out," he said. "He's played a hell of a lot for his club and he's done well, he's played under seriously high pressure. He's played for England now and he knows what he's doing. I'm expecting him to be outstanding."
He added: "I've been in the squad when he's been playing and he's incredibly authoritative, he knows what he wants, and that's a great sign of a guy in a decision-making position. He knows what he wants on the field, and he's learning his way to get that message right on there.
"He's going to be a massive part of it (Johnson's team) and he's only going to get better."