Toulon refuse to release Wilkinson
August 4, 2010
Jonny Wilkinson will not be released for England's open training session next week © Getty Images
Jonny Wilkinson will not be released by Toulon for England's training camp next week.
The Top 14 club insisted Wilkinson would "honour his contract" and remain in France for their opening league match of the season against Bayonne on August 13. The French clubs are not obliged to release their players because England's training camp, which runs from August 8-14, falls outside the official international window and ESPN Scrum understands that Toulon did not receive an official request for the player's release.
A shoulder knock will prevent Wilkinson playing in a friendly against Stade Francais at the Stade Mayol on Thursday but he is expected to be fit come opening day. In a statement the club said that Wilkinson, "will respect his contract and will be available for the first game of the Top 14 against Bayonne on August 13".
Stade Francais forwards Tom Palmer and James Haskell will only attend the England camp for 24 hours before returning to Paris for their Friday night fixture against Bourgoin.
England locked horns with Stade Francais during the Six Nations over the issue of access to Haskell, prompting club owner Max Guazzini to claim the player was being held hostage. But the Rugby Football Union have been anxious to avoid any confrontation on this occasion and all three players have Johnson's backing to play for their clubs.
Injured England Saxons squad members Louis Deacon, Geoff Parling and Matt Mullan will also miss the get-together in order to continue treatment at their clubs. The Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley, who missed the summer tour with a knee injury, will be reviewed by England's medical staff on Tuesday.
"We believe that these have been the right decisions to take after close and amicable consultation with the clubs concerned," said Johnson in a statement. "We will continue to have regular contact and, subject to fitness, look forward to seeing all of the players when we meet again at the end of October ahead of the Investec internationals."
England play New Zealand, Australia, Samoa and South Africa on consecutive Saturdays in November.
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