Wilkinson undecided over playing future
January 17, 2013
Former England international Jonny Wilkinson has his eyes on one final Lions tour © Getty Images
Jonny Wilkinson has revealed he is still agonising over whether to extend his playing career beyond this season.
The 33-year-old's current deal with the French Top 14 side Toulon is set to expire at the end of the season with widespread speculation suggesting he is ready to call time on his career. But the Rugby World Cup winner, who is currently spearheading his side's push for both domestic and Heineken Cup glory, insists he has not ruled out signing a new deal with a decision expected in the next few weeks.
"Rugby is what I do and all that I know," Wilkinson told The Daily Telegraph. "The competitive streak in me has never been stronger. I've never been good at matching my natural instincts against my brain because by brain ticks over way too much. I just can't switch my mind off.
"My natural instinct is a strong one and that is to play rugby but I know I've got something to deal with here. I'm muddled and all over the place on it at the moment. I'm having to escape it and I enjoy escaping it and the way I do that is through day-to-day rugby. I know that, ultimately, this will be an individual decision from me but, in truth, it will be based on the team as well. I can't, and won't, take away from them."
Toulon's recruitment drive ahead of next season is already in full swing with South Africa international winger Bryan Habana recently confirming he will move to France later this year. But it is the rumoured signing of Bath scrum-half Michael Claassens that is likely to be of more interest to the adoring Toulon fans hoping Wilkinson will re-sign.
Wilkinson is currently Toulon's preferred fly-half with French international No.10 Frederic Michalak deployed at scrum-half. But the recruitment of another highly-rated No.9 that would appear to suggest the club are preparing for a future without Wilkinson where Michalak would be their first choice playmaker.
"Toulon can't wait until the end of the season," explained Wilkinson. "They need to move on with their plans in an informed manner. So I've got to make up my mind by some time next month."
Should this be his last season of rugby, Wilkinson is hoping he can bow out with what would be his third tour with the British & Irish Lions despite having not graced the international stage since earning the last of his 97 Test caps at the 2011 World Cup. "If anyone were ever to give me a call I'd strap on a boot and go for it," Wilkinson told the newspaper. "I'd leap at the chance. I'd feel as strongly about the Lions even if I were 65. It's a remarkable experience, a life-changer."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.