Jonny Wilkinson is ready to roar with the British & Irish Lions this summer, with England’s World Cup hero hero declaring: "It will be an amazing tour."
Wilkinson’s waiting game finally ended – after three comeback appearances for Newcastle – when Lions boss Sir Clive Woodward named him as the 45th player to tour New Zealand this summer.
England’s record Test match points-scorer was omitted from the original squad after experiencing a demoralising post-World Cup period blighted by repeated injury setbacks.
Those well-chronicled fitness problems – two knee injuries, biceps trouble and a serious shoulder/neck injury – had the combined effect of sidelining him from England duties since the 2003 World Cup final.
Woodward though, left the selection door open, and Wilkinson could now conceivably take centre-stage during the three-Test series against New Zealand, despite competition from fellow fly-halves Stephen Jones, Ronan O’Gara and Charlie Hodgson.
Wilkinson said: "It will be an amazing tour, and to be asked to go on a Lions tour is the ultimate honour.
"All I can say at the moment is that I am physically fit enough. I can’t be any fitter or better conditioned than I am now.
"It has been a tough old two years, and I’ve had to do a lot of digging into my character and soul-searching.
"There have been a few weeks of training now where I haven’t had to think about the injury every day, and that is always a good sign. I’ve not felt this fit for a long, long time,’ he added.
"I’ve got to reach my own expectations, which are extremely high, and if I can get near to that, then hopefully everything can take care of itself.
"It makes me immensely proud to be going on this tour after a tough season, although also a little nervous in anticipation of what will be an incredible tour."