Lions inspire Wilkinson

Jonny Wilkinson admits he has been inspired by the British & Irish Lions tour of Australia. [more]

Lions inspire Wilkinson

Jonny Wilkinson admits he has been inspired by the British & Irish Lions tour of Australia.

The World Cup-winning fly-half was heavily linked with a place on the triumphant trip Down Under, 12 years after he first faced the Wallabies in the famous jersey.

Wilkinson instead watched on from an armchair but he has been rallied for one more big season with Toulon by the performances of Warren Gatland’s men and Andy Murray’s Wimbledon win.

“I am back in training and already looking forward to putting my Toulon jersey back on,” said Wilkinson.

“I will certainly take inspiration from Andy Murray and the Lions, who gave big performances when it counted.

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“The Lions were fantastic. The players were outstanding and the coaching staff led by Gats did the best job possible in a tough environment.

“They took it to the Wallabies in their own backyard and even I didn’t expect them to win the final Test and the series in that manner.

“I don’t think Australia have been as badly beaten as that at home for a long time. It was a joy to watch if you were British or Irish.

“I would have loved to have been there but I’m just thrilled for all the guys who took part.

“They have done the Lions proud and shown the tradition and brand is as strong as ever.

“They not only competed but deserved to win the series. I think those who had any doubts about future Lions tours certainly won’t have those doubts any more.”

And while Wilkinson did not make a third tour as a player he hopes to stay involved in rugby as a coach after hanging up his boots at the end of next season.

The 34-year-old has a long way to go while cutting his teeth in the coaching world but he admits it would be special to be involved with the Lions once more.

“I want to stay in rugby when I finish playing,” said Wilkinson

“It’s all I have known for the last 15 years or so and I plan to continue my involvement in the sport when I stop.

“Coaching is clearly a real option for me and I already love passing on the knowledge and experience I have gained over the years, playing and training with many great coaches, to the younger guys here at Toulon.

“If somewhere down the line it led to some involvement with England or even the Lions that would be wonderful and special. But that is a long way off.

“Firstly, I would have to get plenty of coaching experience and see how things develop. But I enjoy working with other players.”

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