Jack Willis weighs up England future after being ‘incredibly grateful’ to Toulouse

Colin Newboult
Jack Willis after Toulouse's 2024 Champions Cup victory over Leinster.

Jack Willis after Toulouse's 2024 Champions Cup victory over Leinster.

Jack Willis admits that returning to the Premiership to fight for his England place is currently way down the list of priorities after Toulouse’s Champions Cup triumph.

The flanker produced a stunning display to help Les Rouge et Noir win yet another European title following their 31-22 victory over Leinster in London.

Willis was utterly relentless, making a ridiculous 29 tackles during his 100 minutes on the field as Toulouse added a sixth star to their jersey.

He has quickly become a hero in the south of France and that has inevitably continued the debate around England’s eligibility policy.

Calls for change

The 27-year-old is currently unable to represent the Red Rose due to the RFU’s ban on picking overseas-based players, but there are calls to change that.

Those only grew louder following Willis’ display on Saturday but, for now, if the back-row wants to play Test rugby he will have to return to the Premiership.

That question was unsurprisingly put to him after Toulouse’s Champions Cup success. The openside still has two years left on his contract signed ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup and, at the moment, a move back to England appears unlikely.

“For me there’s lots of things to consider when you talk about a move,” he said.

“After leaving Wasps, there were a lot of emotions. Trying to deal with joining another club in England is a hard thing. No one probably realises how difficult that is.

“I probably escaped a little bit being out at such a great club where we have had a chance to win a Top 14 and a Champions Cup.

“The emotions I feel right now is that I am incredibly grateful. I have been welcomed into a group that have shown nothing but respect to me and have welcomed me with open arms. That’s all I am thinking about.

Sam Warburton hails ‘phenomenal’ Jack Willis after Toulouse’s Champions Cup final victory

“I have just won the Champions Cup. If you had told me two years ago that I would be winning a Champions Cup, I would have thought that you were mental.

“There were a lot of lows with Wasps and I was not playing as much as I would have wanted in certain games, so to be welcomed in Toulouse – I can’t tell you how grateful I am.

“My family have been welcomed and there are so many good blokes here. I’m just so grateful to be a part of this group and to be able to try to add to it.”

‘Best player of all time’

Although Willis was immense in all facets on Saturday, the flanker was actually outdone in the breakdown department by the incredible Antoine Dupont.

Those two were absolutely key for Toulouse at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with Dupont dominating the contact area.

“Antoine made four turnovers! He can do everything! Hell of a player. He’s added a hell of a lot,” Willis said.

“As far as I have seen, he’s probably the best rugby player of all time. He has helped me win two trophies.”

READ MORE: Leinster v Toulouse: Five takeaways from Champions Cup final as ‘superhuman’ Antoine Dupont stars