x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Rugby: Jonny Wilkinson's choice to remain was brought by right reasons

The fact that money and prolonging his rugby career were not Jonny Wilkinson's first priorities while considering his future with Toulon was nice to hear, writes Graham Caygill.

Toulon's fly half Jonny Wilkinson reacts during a Top 14 rugby match against Toulon RC at the Pierre Antoine Stadium. Remy Gabalda / AFP
Toulon's fly half Jonny Wilkinson reacts during a Top 14 rugby match against Toulon RC at the Pierre Antoine Stadium. Remy Gabalda / AFP

In this cynical age where sportsmen and women are often accused of being more interested in money than plying their respective trade, the recent attitude of Jonny Wilkinson has been refreshing.

The 33 year old, whose kicking guided England to their lone Rugby World Cup success in 2003, announced last week that he was to continue playing for his French club side Toulon for at least another season after admitting that he had considered retirement as he recovered from a groin operation.

But what was heartening was that Wilkinson sought out teammates Matt Giteau and Frederic Michalak and asked them if they felt he still had something to offer, with their positive answer guiding him to his decision.

Do not get me wrong, without knowing the ins and outs of Wilkinson's Toulon contract, I am sure he will be well-rewarded for his services at fly-half for another 12 months.

But the fact that money and prolonging his career were not his first priorities while considering his future was nice to hear.

He wanted reassurance from his teammates that he could still play to a high level and not be a hindrance to his team's chances.

When fit and healthy, Wilkinson has been one of the most consistent fly-halfs in the game.

The fact he is to continue playing on is great news for Toulon and the game, but the fact he is doing it for the right reasons is even more satisfying.

gcaygill@thenational.ae

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