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Wilkinson seeks fairytale ending

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iol spt apr28 Wilkinson Jonny

AP

Toulon coach Bernard Laporte hailed Jonny Wilkinson as a "once in a generation player" while the fly-half himself insisted his only concern was helping the French club retain the European Cup. Photo by: Claude Paris/AP

Rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson says he is playing every game as though it is his last and he has a possible fairytale end to his career in sight.

Wilkinson's left boot again dominated in Toulon's 24-16 win over Munster on Sunday that took the French side into a second straight European Cup final against England's Saracens. He scored 21 of the points.

One week after defending the cup at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on May 24, Wilkinson could be captaining a Toulon team challenging for France's Top 14 title at the Stade de France.

No French team has won both titles in the same year, although Toulon came close last season when they defeated Clermont 16-15 to win their first European Cup before losing the Top 14 final one week later, 19-14 against Castres.

Only Leicester (2001-2002) and Leinster (2011-2012) have won the European Cup two years running.

Wilkinson, who will be 35 on May 25 but is still not officially saying whether he will retire, calls the double “quite possible”.

England's World Cup 2003 hero says he appreciates the importance of each match as the end of his career gets closer.

“Perhaps by treating every match like that (the end) that allows you to get another match,” said Wilkinson after the Munster game.

“If you lose, if it's the last European Cup match, it is better to have done so having given everything,” he added. “After that its destiny.”

“It is our duty to continue to give everything in training, to find time to rest, to always try to go further in each match,” said the fly half who had to move to France to get the European title after all his honours in England.

Wilkinson is wary of Saracens, who crushed Clermont 46-6 in the second European Cup semi-final on Saturday at Twickenham.

Toulon beat Saracens 24-12 in last year's European Cup semi-final when Wilkinson scored all his side's points.

In the final, Wilkinson will come up against Owen Farrell who has taken his place as England's main kicker.

“If we don't take to the field with 100% focus we'll get annihilated like Clermont did,” Wilkinson warned.

“Playing in the European Cup again after having won it is very interesting,” added Wilkinson, again hinting that the end of his career is in sight when the season closes.

“Now I understand the effort it took last time.

“I spent years watching the boys dispute the finals and dreamed about it. To live through it is incredible.

“All these key matches and being in the winning team, that is the other side of the dream.

“And in a way it is better that this happens at the end of a career than the beginning,” said Wilkinson.

If Toulon beat Paris-based club Stade Francais on Saturday they will advance to the French Top 14 semi-finals.– AFP


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