British and Irish Lions 2013: Jonny Wilkinson could be on standby list for tour of Australia

Fly-half ruled himself out of contention for the 37-man squad

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The Independent Online

Jonny Wilkinson could yet be a part of this summer's British and Irish Lions tour after it was revealed he will hold discussions about being on the standby list.

The former England international was overlooked by Warren Gatland for the 37-man squad, with Lions manager Andy Irvine explaining that the Toulon player ruled himself out.

"The truth is Jonny wasn't up for it. He ruled himself out," said Irvine.

"He told Warren that he feels his body isn't in right shape to complete a tour like this. I admire his honesty and integrity."

Gatland told reporters: "He wasn't available. He said he really appreciated the call but that he was committed to Toulon and would not be able to travel with the squad."

Gatland said he was contacting Wilkinson to include him in the squad.

"I wouldn't have made the call otherwise. But we wanted the whole squad to be able to play in Hong Kong and he couldn't make that commitment.

"He said he was struggling with his body and managing things week to week and I think he'd struggle to get through a seven-week tour."

Despite that, the 33-year-old will hold discussions with Gatland about being among a list of standby players for the tour of Australia.

BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer said: "Lions assistant coach Rob Howley says Gatland has spoken to Jonny Wilkinson about being on stand-by list for Lions.

"Wikinson will be involved in decision as to whether he is put on stand-by once his commitments with Toulon are over."

It is understood that Gatland is eager for the squad to depart on tour together, however, Wilkinson will still be in action for Toulon when the Lions leave for Hong Kong.

The French Top 14 final takes place on the same day as the Lions play the Barbarians in Hong Kong in their opening game on June 1.

Speaking ahead of the squad announcement, Wilkinson urged Gatland to look to youth.

"The Lions is difficult for me because it's not at all that I wouldn't consider it - it would be fabulous," he said after Toulon reached the final of the Heineken Cup with victory over Saracens.

"It's up there with the most amazing experiences you can get in rugby. But I watch guys like Owen Farrell, Toby Flood, Dan Biggar and Jonathan Sexton and it is them who are driving rugby forward.

"Perhaps they should be the ones driving this tour forward as well."

Gatland's squad is made up of 15 Welsh players, 10 from England, nine from Ireland and three from Scotland.

England's representation equals the number who appeared on the 2009 tour of South Africa, and head coach Stuart Lancaster congratulated those selected.

He said: "Being selected by the British & Irish Lions is a major honour and I know the England players named in the squad today will do the jersey proud.

"I'm sure they will contribute a great deal to the tour and coming into a new environment with the best players from Ireland, Scotland and Wales will only enhance their development as players and people.

"Taking on Australia away from home in three Tests is a great challenge but one I know they will relish. Everyone involved in England Rugby will be cheering them on."

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