Planet Rugby

The British & Irish Lions


Wilko could still feature for Lions

01st May 2013 11:50


Jonny Wilkinson of the Lions shouts

Jonny Wilkinson: Available later in June?

Jonny Wilkinson has left the door open to possibly joining the British and Irish Lions squad after fulfilling his commitments to Toulon.

The former England fly-half has confirmed that he turned down a place in Warren Gatland's squad because his priority lies with his club's dual French and European title ambitions.

Gatland called the 33-year-old on Monday to offer him a place on the tour - which starts against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on June 1, the same day as the Top 14 Final - but Wilkinson said he was unavailable, for now.

"It was a hugely proud moment for me to be called by Warren Gatland, to be told that they were thinking of me in this way," Wilkinson told The Times.

"I was phenomenally proud to be considered for the Lions, so it's very disappointing that I'm unavailable.

"If Toulon manage to get through to the final of the Top 14, my absolute priority lies with them and helping to get the best out of a team that has been so good to me for so long.

"It is, after all, these guys who have got me to the stage where I could even be considered for the Lions."

Wilkinson, underwent a groin procedure in January, and told Gatland that he may require another operation, adding that he would not be able cope with the physical demands of the entire seven-week tour.

But with the Lions only taking two fly-halves (Jonathan Sexton and Owen Farrell) and the third Test still two months away, Wilkinson did not rule out taking part in his third Lions tour as an injury replacement.

"I told him where I am at the moment, that there's a bit of day-to-day management where my body is concerned," explained Wilkinson.

"I'll see how I am at the end of the club season and if Warren needs me and I am able to get involved, that would be fabulous."