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Lions carrot too tempting for Wilkinson

03rd October 2012 22:54

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Jonny Wilkinson attacking for Lions in 2001

Painful loss: Wilkinson in 2001

Two-time tourist Jonny Wilkinson has spoken of a nightmare of unfinished business with the British & Irish Lions and has put himself up for selection for next year's trip to face Australia.

The World Cup winner, who retired from England duty in December last year, is eager to return to the country of his greatest and worst memories.

The 33-year-old fly-half claimed the 2003 RWC in Sydney, but two years earlier was part of the Lions squad that fell so painfully to the 2001 Wallabies.

"There's no way I could say no," he said to the possibility of playing in the series Down Under.

"In terms of what that represents, everything about it, it's enormous. Such a fabulous thing.

"The joy is the fact it doesn't have to come with international rugby. It doesn't matter where you come from. You have got six weeks, get your boots on and get into it.

"It is niggling away at me (that I haven't won a series with the Lions)," added Wilkinson, who was not fit to be considered for the 2009 tour of South Africa but did tour New Zealand in 2005 where they were whitewashed.

"In 2001 I sat in the changing-room after the third Test and it felt like a World Cup final loss. I'd say it was up there (with the biggest disappointments of my career), definitely.

"Australia were on fire at the time and that first Test was incredible. The second Test (in Melbourne) was incredible up to a point and the third Test in Sydney was just a great game. Knowing we had a shot (at the series win), the disappointment was ridiculous.

"It's like trying to run a marathon, getting to the 25th mile and someone saying: 'That's it.' All I can do is play and see if I fit into those plans."

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