4th Oct 2012 1:09pm | By Editor
He may have retired from international rugby, but 2003s World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson would make an exception for the upcoming 2013 British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.
The Wallabies tormentor, who famously slotted the winning field goal to snatch the William Webb Ellis Trophy from Australia in Sydney, said ‘there’s no way I could say no’, when asked if he’d play for the combined side.
And the door is open, with coach Warren Gatland saying he’d consider those not playing for their nation for his squad.
‘In terms of what the Lions represents, everything about it is enormous,’ Wilkinson said, as reported in The Telegraph, acting in his role as World Cup 2015 ambassador.
‘It’s such a fabulous thing. The joy is that it doesn’t have to come with international rugby. You start, you give it everything and you finish. That’s the beauty of it. You have got six weeks, get your boots on and get on with it.’
Wilkinson has unfinished business, having been part of the 2001 Lions side that lost 2-1 to the Wallabies and he’d be a good chance of making that up with the Aussies in diabolical form sitting third on The Rugby Championship table.
Wilkinson is playing in France and in great form for Toulon, who have said they wouldn’t release players for international duty if they make the finals of the Top 14 competition. The Top 14 final coincides with the Lions’ June 1 match against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on the way to Australia.
Wilkinson is realistic about his chances, noting his competition from Welshman Rhys Priestland, Ireland’s Jonny Sexton, young Scot Greig Laidlaw, and England’s Toby Flood and Owen Farrell.
‘I’m a 33-year-old foreign player in France and I’m not England's mainstay,’ he said.
‘Selection is out of my control. All I can do is play and see if I fit into those plans.’
Wilkinson was unaware that Gatland had been in Toulon last month to check out the availability of players. The New Zealander has no qualms about considering the likes of Wilkinson.
Gatland has described Gatland as ‘still a fine player’ at 33 and that ‘no one is ruled out’.
The British Lions’ first of three Tests against the Wallabies is on June 22 – they’ll also play all of Australia Super 15 franchises.
Image via Getty
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