Wilko loving his French challenge

Jonny Wilkinson has reiterated his love for French rugby and revealed he has no plans to retire from international rugby after the World Cup. [more]

Jonny Wilkinson

Jonny Wilkinson has reiterated his love for French rugby and revealed he has no plans to retire from international rugby after the World Cup.

The two-tour Lion reckons his ongoing spell with Top 14 big spenders Toulon has made him a better player and made rugby a bigger part of his life than ever before.

"Rugby is lived here, it becomes a very special part of you, almost as if it’s part of your family," Wilkinson told the Telegraph.

"I didn’t quite expect it to be like this. It’s been an opportunity to start a brand new life.

"It would be very unnatural to think you might want to get rid of it. You have to live it daily or not at all. This is me now.

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"Toulon has become a new life for me. I’ve had to go out and prove myself from scratch and that’s been fantastic.

"You’re not just playing for a team, you’re playing for a region, a way of life. You’ve got to buy into that. You can’t just flick a switch and trot out on a Saturday. It’s all or nothing.

"You might have thought that would be the way at every club. But it’s not. And that’s given me real fulfilment and pleasure. It’s made my life quite exceptional.

"Nobody measures me against my profile or history. It’s all about the rugby. That’s been great.

"I’ve had to refresh how I do things, break them down, learn to link quickly with new players and take myself out of the fixed and certain. That’s put me under stress and I’m the better for it.

"I’ve had to dig deeper. I always liked to be 100 per cent certain of what I was doing. Here you can’t be. Even the match balls change.

"So you’ve got to adapt and take responsibility. I used to want to know where precisely the next meal was coming from. Now I have to live more in the unknown, think on my feet. It’s been a real adventure."

Wilkinson's recent contract extension raised question marks over his England future with the RFU's recent decision to only select home-based players.

But Wilkinson insists he will remain available for selection. "There have been no lengthy talks, more of a day-to-day thing really," added Wilkinson.

"Of course I’ll always give what I can to the England cause. But my place there needs to be merited.

"For that to be the case then I have to be doing what I’m doing here because it makes me the person and the player I am. If England fits, it will be.

But he admits he does not take the England number ten jersey for granted.

"I would question anyone who would be comfortable. I was never into this thing about people supposedly keeping the England shirt warm when I was injured.

"Whoever is playing is playing because they’ve earned the right to. My ethos has always been to give a team-mate the greatest opportunity to do well.

"I want to see Toby Flood play to the best of his ability. If he’s not at his best, then it’s a waste.

"Of course, it’s a constant battle with your own competitive feelings because you want to be out there in control and making a difference.

"But it’s about the team succeeding. If you’re not doing your best for someone else, then you’re doing the opposite and hurting the team."

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