Jonny Wilkinson set to bring curtain down on playing career as World Cup winner is 'set to retire' at the end of the season
Wilkinson has been considering retirement after leading Toulon to Heineken Cup glory last season and reports suggest an announcement will be made in the near-future confirming his decision
Monday 24 March 2014
Jonny Wilkinson is reportedly set to retire at the end of the season, bringing to an end a career that sets him out as one of the finest players to have appeared on the rugby field.
The Toulon fly-half has previously admitted that he is yet to make a decision on his future, but widespread reports claim the arrival in the summer of Wales and British and Irish Lions full-back Leigh Halfpenny has seen the 2003 World Cup winning fly-half decide the time is right to bring the curtain down on his career.
Wilkinson moved to the south of France in 2009 after leaving Premiership side Newcastle Falcons, the club he spent 12 years with and rose to prominence on the world stage with.
Having considered retirement last season, Wilkinson was rewarded for his fine form with a one-year extension, and instantly repaid the Top 14 side for their faith by delivering the Heineken Cup. The 34-year-old could remain with the club though, with claims a role on the staff as kicking coach, which would see him work with Halfpenny and his replacement in the number 10 shirt when announced, could be offered immediately.
Wilkinson said in February that he was yet to decide what his future held, admitting that his mood swung between the options of continuing his role as Toulon captain or hanging up his boots for good.
“I am taking it game by game," Wilkinson said. "Some weeks I walk off the field and feel like I am useless, other days I come off the training field or the pitch and feel that there is so much more I need to do and so much more I can get out of myself.
“But one thing I don’t want to do is to put myself into a position when I get there that the desire and enjoyment is no longer there.”
The 91-time capped England international won the adulation of the world when his extra-time drop goal secured the English a first World Cup crown in Australia in 2003. Having struggled with a string of injuries, Wilkinson failed to make a single appearance in the red rose between the World Cup success in November 2003 and his eventual comeback against Scotland in February 2007.
In that time, Wilkinson was able to go on the ill-fated 2005 British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand to add to his 2001 trip to Australia, featuring in all three Tests on both tours. Having moved to Toulon in 2009, Wilkinson remained a mainstay in the England squad, and his final appearance on the international stage came in England’s 2011 World Cup quarter-final exit to France.
Having accumulated 1,246 Test points, Wilkinson is second only to Kiwi fly-half Dan Carter, and remains England’s leading points scorer with his total of 1,179 a mammoth 779 points more than second-placed Paul Grayson.
He also maintains the record for the most Rugby World Cup points, with his tally of 279 50 points more than Scotland’s Gavin Hastings, and remains the only player in history to score points in two separate World Cup finals, when he scored six points for England in their 2007 World Cup final defeat to South Africa four years after his Sydney triumph.
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