Warren witnesses Wilko’s latest magic show

Jonny Wilkinson made one final bid to convince the British & Irish Lions coaches to take him on a third tour as he notched a Heineken Cup semi-final 24 points to steer Toulon into their first final. [more]

Warren witnesses Wilko’s latest magic show

Jonny Wilkinson made one final bid to convince the British & Irish Lions coaches to take him on a third tour as he notched a Heineken Cup semi-final 24 points to steer Toulon into their first final.

Just as he had done in the quarter-final against Leicester Tigers, Wilkinson kicked immaculately as he once again scored all his side’s points and scooped yet another man of the match award.

It was a very special return to Twickenham Stadium for the former English international and his seven penalties and miraculous drop goal set-up an all-French Heineken Cup final in Dublin on 18 May against ASM Clermont Auvergne.

Warren Gatland, who had been in Montpellier the previous day to see Clermont beat Munster, was at Twickenham with his full coaching team. Rob Howley, Graham Rowntree and Neil Jenkins had watched Leinster beat Biarritz Olympique to reach the Amlin Challenge Cup final in Dublin on Saturday, while Andy Farrell had headed to France with Gatland.

The five men will sit down at 3,00pm on Monday to discuss which 36-38 players they take with them to Hong Kong and Australia and the end of May for the 125th anniversary tour. Will Wilkinson, a tourist in 2001 and 2005, be in the mix?

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It is a question the man who turns 35 the week after the Heineken Cup final has been asked continually this season. At least his answers have been consistent.

“Playing for the Lions is the most amazing experience you can get in rugby. It was an honour for me to play on the 2001 and 2005 tours,” he said.

“But I watch these other players like Jonny Sexton, Owen Farrell, Toby Flood, Dan Biggar and others and they are the ones driving rugby forward. They perhaps are the ones who should be taking the tour forward.”

While the Heineken Cup final takes place on Saturday, 18 May, the French Championship final, in which Toulon are hoping to play, kicks-off on the same day the Lions open their 125th anniversary tour in Hong Kong against the Barbarians, Saturday, 1 June.

Gatland has spoken many times about not considering those players who won’t be able to feature in the opening game. The question is, did Wilkinson’s latest heroics at Twickenham make him change his mind?
 

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