2013 British & Irish Lions
Wilkinson insists Lions do not need him
April 9, 2013
Toulon fly-half Jonny Wilkinson has played down his chances of touring with the Lions later this year © Getty Images
Jonny Wilkinson has played down his chances of earning selection for the British & Irish Lions' tour of Australia later this year by insisting that they have plenty of young talent at their disposal and do not require his services.
The former England international delivered a reminder of his class by steering Toulon to victory over Leicester Tigers in their Heineken Cup quarter-final clash on Sunday with many tipping the 33-year-old to claim a place in coach Warren Gatland's plans when he announces his squad on April 30.
Wilkinson, who retired from international rugby in 2011, admits he would be delighted to get a call from Gatland but believes the current crop of Test stars - including England playmakers Owen Farrell and Toby Flood and Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton - provide him with numerous options for the Lions' No.10 shirt.
"There's no need for me to be there with these guys around," Wilkinson told the Daily Telegraph in the wake of his side's latest euro triumph. "As I've said before it's now about young guys taking the game forward.
"If I answer the question [of Lions selection] it gives the wrong message. As far as I'm concerned, I'm like the guy in the armchair, wishing I could be on the Lions tour."
Toulon's victory over Leicester set up a semi-final showdown with Saracens at Twickenham on April 28 where Wilkinson is set to go head-to-head with Farrell in a match-up many were quick to suggest was a possible Lions trial. But Wilkinson, who would not be available for the Lions' first tour game should his side reach the Top 14 final that is scheduled for the same day, does not see it that way.
"He's a great player, with a lot of talent," said Wilkinson. "He's someone who has a job to do in the future, to lead his country and take rugby in England in the direction it needs to go.
"With Floody out there today doing the same thing, there are guys like that to take the game forward. England are in a good position, a good place. I'm really excited about what they can do. I'm an England fan right down to the bone and I'd love to see where these guys can take it. It's exciting for me as well."
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