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Jonny chooses Frogs over Poms

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JONNY WILKINSON has signed a new two-year that will keep him at Toulon until the summer of 2013, the French club have confirmed.

AAP

Fly half Wilkinson has put himself on a collision course with the Rugby Football Union’s stance that England will not pick any players plying their trade overseas following the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

Wilkinson, 31, a World Cup winner with England in 2003, had been widely expected to extend his stay in the south of France after making a major impact following his move from Newcastle in the summer of 2009.

Wilkinson, capped 86 times, scored 302 points during his first season with Toulon, helping Philippe Saint-Andre’s side to reach the final of the Amlin Challenge Cup, where they lost to Cardiff Blues in Marseille, as well as the semi-finals of the Top 14.

He has been just as imprerssive this time round, helping the French side to the top of a testing Heineken Cup pool which includes Munster, Ospreys and London Irish.

He was voted the best overseas player in the French league at the end of last month and Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal had previously stated his desire to keep him “at any price”.

Dropped to second choice

While he has flourished in France Wilkinson has dropped to second-choice behind Toby Flood in the England pecking order, and has not started a Test since the Six Nations draw with Scotland in March. A shoulder injury kept him out of this year’s autumn internationals.

Wilkinson’s decision to pen a new contract does not necessarily mean that next year’s World Cup will signal the end of his international career.

The RFU have stated that players who chose to play for French clubs could still be selected for international duty under “exceptional circumstances”.

The stance has been designed with success at the England-hosted 2015 World Cup in mind, but Wilkinson will be 36 by then and is unlikely to still be playing at the highest level.

But a man of his experience could be seen as a useful figure to have around the national squad for a year or two after next year’s World Cup, and his new deal may leave the RFU with an uncomfortable choice between abiding by the new declaration and selecting a player still worthy of his place in the national set-up.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. lol, they talking of him for 2015, he’s already getting on to 32 for next years RWC, which is pretty damn old for a back, but flyhalf is perhaps the one position you can get away with a bit of speed, altho there have actually been some very quick flyhalves, naas, mertens, etc.

  2. Reply to cab @ 7:12 pm:

    How old was Hugo Porta when he retired?

    Born 1951. International career 1971-1990.
    Made him 39?

    Admittedly a very special case and player.

  3. Reply to cab @ 7:12 pm:

    Thing is what a lot don’t realise… JW is every bit as good as he always was… it’s just Eng’s pack aren’t as dominant as they were in the past…

  4. 41 holy crap, but the QB doesn’t run much huh?

    I thought the only positions you could be a bit older where the tight 5, and even then with the modern rules, these okes ages will be getting younger and younger. Our last ou baas was the no 4 from the sharks ackermann who I think was 37 when playing in england in 2006, shaw and thorne are still currently playing at 37 and 36 respectively, but Thorn is immensely fit coming from a league background and not as naturally big as Bakkies, Shaw or Ackerman.

  5. In 1980 Gordie Howe at age 52 played all 80 games for the Hartford Whalers in the National Hockey League (Professional Ice Hockey), scoring 15 goals and leading his team to the playoffs. Ice hockey is a fairly physical sport, especially as played in the North American professional leagues.

    Happy New Year

  6. Howe later came back to play a single shift on the ice in 1997 at age 69 to become the only professional sportsman to compete in six decades, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

  7. Reply to Boertjie @ 4:31 pm: getting back to my roots, spending a vast majority of my sailing time on my Laser. Something about the simplicity and being all alone, nobody else to blame

  8. Reply to cab @ 6:30 pm: Happy New Year cab, been a long time indeed, for you. I definitely take time to read your posts when browsing online. As always insightful, intelligent and sometimes provocative. All the best to you and yours.

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