England intend to tap into Jonny Wilkinsons expertise and experience after his retirement - and the iconic fly-half is keen to help. Photo: Claude Paris

England World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson announced that he will retire at the end of the season after Toulon's European and French Top 14 finals.

“I would like to take this opportunity to formally announce my retirement from playing rugby,” the 34-year-old said in a statement on his club's website.

“I have an enormous number of people to thank for their support from all around the world but especially here in France and in England,” Wilkinson said,

“This however is not at all the time to be concentrating on this as I would like to focus all my attention and energy on the team and these final two games of the season.”

The fly-half, most famous for winning the 2003 World Cup for England with an extra-time drop goal against Australia, only ever played for two clubs during his career, joining big-spending Toulon from Newcastle in 2009.

He played an integral part in Toulon's rise to the pinnacle of French rugby, but at 34 years old his retirement at the end of the season had been widely expected.

Wilkinson won 91 caps for England, and played in a second World Cup final in 2007 when they were beaten 15-6 by South Africa, scoring a total of 1,246 points, second only in the world to All Black Dan Carter.

He was part of four Six Nations title wins for England with the peak being a Grand Slam in 2003, the same year England won the World Cup 20-17 in Sydney.

He also won six caps for the British and Irish Lions, but retired from international rugby in December 2011 to concentrate on playing for Toulon.

Wilkinson's distintive kicking style brought him great success and set a new benchmark in rugby which subsequently has been followed by a new generation of place-kickers. – AFP