Planet Rugby

Wilko aiming for a perfect ending

24th May 2014 11:29

Share:

Jonny Wilkinson Toulon HEC Final 2014

Jonny Wilkinson: Compared to Zinedine Zidane

Toulon coach Bernard Laporte hailed fly-half Jonny Wilkinson as a "once-in-a-generation player" ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup Final.

England great Wilkinson will captain Toulon in Saturday's showdown with Saracens at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, with next week's Top 14 final against Castres set to crown his illustrious career.

When coach of France, Laporte often had cause to rue the skill of England's 2003 World Cup Final drop-goal hero and the Toulon boss was keen to pay tribute to Wilkinson during a pre-match press conference in Cardiff on Friday.

"He is an exceptional player - you could talk about him forever," said Laporte.

"Players like him only come around once in a generation," added Laporte, who compared Wilkinson to Zinedine Zidane, who scored twice when France beat Brazil 3-0 to win the 1998 football World Cup Final.

"Once, after we (France) lost against England at Twickenham, I said we have Zidane, and they have Wilkinson. I was right.

"It is a pleasure to have him. He is a perfectionist, but he is always asking questions as if he is starting out in the game."

Wilkinson, 35 on Sunday, said he'd no doubts about his impending retirement.

"I felt the time had come to say that's that...I feel relieved that I have announced it.

"This game (on Saturday) is the biggest one as far as I am concerned at the moment. Next week doesn't really exist.

"It simply comes down to the here and now and for the here and now to be a Heineken Cup final is incredible.

"But the thought of leaving the final without a happy ending to this journey is a painful one, so we've got to do everything we can to try to make sure it doesn't end like that.

"I think everyone plays the game with the aim of trying to leave it in a better place than when you arrived," Wilkinson insisted.

"I have been trying to keep up, more than anything, throughout my career, and no more so than at the moment.

"I couldn't care less about what happens to me if things go well for the team," he added.

Wilkinson, who kicked all of Toulon's points in their 24-12 Heineken Cup semi-final win over Saracens last season, paid tribute to his opposing fly-half and current England number 10 Owen Farrell, as well as Sarries captain Steve Borthwick, who is also retiring at the end of the season.

"Saracens are very strong, hugely consistent and able to go out there, no matter what the conditions, the day, the situation and come through," he said.

"You then realise that comes from the individuals and especially from the guys making the decisions.

"Owen Farrell is a younger guy and his ability to do that at this stage in his career is amazing, to be fair," Wilkinson said of the 22-year-old stand-off.

"He embodies what is great about this Saracens team."

Turning to second row forward Borthwick, a former England captain, Wilkinson added: "I have known Steve for a long time.

"He's been inspirational. He has never compromised his values, his desires, his drive.

"There has never been a moment where he hasn't given everything."

  • Champions Cup Fixtures
Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Saturday , December 6
Sale vs Saracens13:00
Munster vs Clermont Auvergne15:15
Harlequins vs LeinsterTBC
Leicester vs ToulonTBC
Ulster vs ScarletsTBC
Montpellier vs BathTBC
Toulouse vs GlasgowTBC
Benetton Treviso vs Northampton13:00
Ospreys vs Racing Metro 9215:15
Sunday , December 7
Castres vs Wasps13:00
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
  • Champions Cup Results
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne 35 - 3 Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Report
Castres 16 - 21 LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Report
Wasps 16 - 23 HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Report
Benetton Treviso 10 - 26 Racing Metro 92
Saturday , October 25
Bath 19 - 21 ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Report
Montpellier 13 - 15 GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Report
Ulster 13 - 23 ToulonUlster vs Toulon Report
Northampton 34 - 6 OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 15 - 3 LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Report
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 SaracensMunster vs Saracens Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
  • Champions Cup Table
Pool 1
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Munster28
2Clermont Auvergne26
3Saracens25
4Sale Sharks21
Pool 2
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Harlequins28
2Leinster28
3Wasps22
4Castres21
Pool 3
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Toulon28
2Scarlets24
3Leicester Tigers24
4Ulster21
Pool 4
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Glasgow Warriors29
2Toulouse28
3Montpellier22
4Bath21
Pool 5
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Racing Metro Paris28
2Northampton25
3Ospreys25
4Treviso20