Beware Toulon 'family', Jonny Wilkinson warns Saracens

 

Jonny Wilkinson has warned Saracens they will face the Toulon "family" in today's Heineken Cup semi-final at Twickenham.

The French club are chasing a European and domestic double after years of heavy investment in a squad packed full of seasoned internationals such as Bakkies Botha, Matt Giteau, Andrew Sheridan and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe.

"There is this fantastic team spirit at Toulon, which I've never felt before," Wilkinson said.

"It's a family now, a tight family that benefits from having guys from around the world adding their piece. It's very easy for that situation to become a negative. For it to become a positive you need guys with the right values. People are happy to resume responsibility and learn."

Wilkinson recently signed a new one-year contract extension after enjoying a superb season, though he is seen as an unlikely contender for Lions selection, especially given Toulon's likely involvement in the Top 14 play-offs.

"I have an issue with the idea of form. I'm just trying to do something good for the team and trying to get better and better," the 33-year-old said.

"If I feel like I'm on the path to doing that then I feel like I'm on the path to doing the right thing. I'm excited about getting up each morning and attacking each day. I'm excited about being able to play more rugby.

"That for me is the best way to get a gauge on how I'm feeling – the excitement is there. If it's there I know I'm in the right place."

Former London Irish openside Steffon Armitage has been demoted to the Toulon bench, but his fellow England internationals Delon Armitage, Andrew Sheridan and Nick Kennedy have made the starting XV.

Today will be Saracens' second appearance in the Heineken Cup semi-finals and the first for Toulon.

The last time a club from the Aviva Premiership won the competition was in 2007 when Wasps beat Leicester in the only all-English final.

It has been lean pickings since, with the salary cap and demands of the domestic league hamstringing attempts to break Ireland's dominance, but wing David Strettle feels no obligation to reverse the decline on nationality grounds.

"Some players might feel as though they need to do this for the Premiership, but personally I don't," Strettle said.

"Whether an English team won it last year or 20 years ago, it makes no difference to me.

"It's about what's happening now. I'm a Saracens player and we want to win for this team and this club."

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam