England and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland has ruled out making a fresh approach for former England international Jonny Wilkinson regarding his availability for the Lions tour of Australia in the summer. Wilkinson was named as the European Player of the Year, merely 24 hours after leading his side Toulon to glory in the Heineken Cup over Clermont Auvergne in the final, helping the big spending French side to continental glory.
The English veteran, who starred for the England national team and booted them to glory in the final of the 2003 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, was asked by Gatland to be a part of the Lions’ squad for the upcoming tour of Australia before he announced the 37-man squad for the tour.
However, the 33 year old rejected that opportunity owing to commitments with Toulon as well as his deteriorating fitness. And with Gatland reluctant to ask the England legend Jonny Wilkinson to be a part of the squad once again, there is a growing voice urging the New Zealander to pick up the phone and ask him once again.
Gatland has, however, confirmed that Wilkinson remains in his plans if either one of Owen Farrell or Jonathan Sexton are injured but also admitted that his recent exploits with Toulon have done nothing to convince him that an immediate call-up is necessary. He stated that he has been over with the conversation he had with Wilkinson once before and nothing has changed since then.
Gatland mentioned that if any player picked up an injury while on the tour, then there might be another conversation with Jonny Wilkinson. He added that Jonny is a very good player but as far as he is concerned, the conversation is over for the moment and there is nothing new to say.