Top 14
Wilkinson refuses to rule out new deal
ESPN Staff
August 13, 2013
The Top 14 captains pose with the Bouclier de Brennus in Paris on the eve of the new season © Getty Images

Toulon fly-half Jonny Wilkinson has hinted he may put off retirement again and extend his stellar career beyond this season.

The former England playmaker was widely expected to retire at the end of last season but opted to put pen to paper on a new one-year deal with Toulon that reportedly confirmed him as the highest-paid player in French rugby's top flight. He subsequently went on to steer his side to the Heineken Cup crown and also the Top 14 final and was also named the European Player of the Year.

Now, on the eve of the new Top 14 season, AFP reports that the newly-appointed Toulon captain has suggested he may be tempted to extend his stay in the south of France. "You never know," he told a press conference in Paris when asked if this season would be his last.

"I wasn't sure that last season wouldn't have been my last but I'm back again with the same hunger, the same desire to get on, to try to improve and bring something more to the team. Being captain is also something to manage and I'll see how that goes."

"I play every match as if it was the last of my career."

He added: "That said, we must give playing time to everyone and I have begun to see myself in the shoes of a coach...I like to help others in their progression: it is a real pleasure. "

Toulon have battled to the Top 14 final in the last two seasons only to suffer agonising defeats and Wilkinson is determined to ensure his side are in the mix for the Bouclier de Brennus once more this year in the hope of securing their first domestic title since 1992.

"It was difficult to go right to the wire last year and not win it," the 34-year-old said. "It was disappointing. We're going to try to build a season where at the end we'll be playing for the trophy."

Wilkinson will also spearhead Toulon's defence of European club rugby's top prize but is refusing to prioritise one competition over another. "I play every match as if it was the last of my career," the World Cup winner added. "You can't pick your matches or your performances. At the end of my career, I'm thinking about every second and every moment is very important."

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