Wilkinson was huge – Laporte

Date published: April 28 2013

Toulon coach Bernard Laporte was full of praise for fly-half Jonny Wilkinson following Sunday's 24-12 semi-final win over Saracens.

Toulon coach Bernard Laporte was full of praise for fly-half Jonny Wilkinson following the 24-12 semi-final win over Saracens.

Wilkinson kicked all of Toulon's points in an outstanding performance to guide Toulon to their first Heineken Cup final against French rivals Clermont, with Laporte delighted by Wilkinson's performance whilst adding his opinion on the scrums and breakdown.

“Jonny was huge today,” said Laporte.

“Great players win great matches and today that was the case. Our English players were extremely good and wanted to show in their homeland that they are not finished. Jonny is a great player and has been for a long time.

“Clermont are a benchmark – they are excellent. But I don't think we are particularly bad and we look forward to playing them in the final.

“We expected that kind of match as Saracens are a brilliant team. We had to give 120% and when Danie [Rossouw] took a yellow card I was concerned, but in the end we resisted and didn't let them score from a good lineout,” said Laporte.

“I've never been in a scrum so we will have to leave it to the experts to talk about that. A lot of people have criticised our scrum but you have to work at it. We've never had a poor scrum, maybe in Grenoble but some people thought we had been unfairly penalised.

“Very soon we won't have scrums anymore – it's not easy for referees to officiate. We did dominate the scrum and we were better than them.

“The breakdown is extremely important and we were very good at tackling them and bringing them to ground. Our defence was our forte and allowed us to slow down their game which was a bonus – Rossouw was especially good.”

Laporte reiterated his side needx to focus and look forward with the Top 14 play-offs and Heineken Cup final to come over the next few weeks, hinting at rotating his squad.

“It's fantastic, but I've only been with this club for 18-19 months so I don't fully feel the culture of the club yet. The second time Toulon have been in this competition we have gone to the final, but as I said to players the season isn't over. We have to move forward now,” added Laporte.

“Some of our older players need longer to recover and we have to manage that type of thing. Some players will be rested and we will discuss it with the coaches tomorrow.

“We are moving forward but it takes time. I'm extremely proud of the players mindset and now we have to move forward.”

by Ben Coles