Toulon boss issues Jonny Wilkinson warning

Jonny Wilkinson’s decision to join ambitious French Top 14 side Toulon last year is proving to be the most inspired of his life, according to club owner Mourad Boudjellal.


“In this start to the season, we’re seeing a 2003 vintage of Jonny!” gushed Boudjellal, in reference to the form shown by Wilkinson when he scored the winning drop goal for England in the final of the 2003 World Cup.


Known to be outspoken, Boudjellal has, however, every right to hoist Wilkinson on to an early-season pedestal.


Voted the best fly-half of last season by prestigious rugby newspaper Midi Olympique, Wilkinson has so far amassed an impressive 135 points, a total which includes two tries and nine drop goals, after just nine matches.


That total makes up an astonishing 75 percent of the club’s total points haul, and has left Toulon in second place behind surprise pace-setters Racing-Metro.


Although Wilkinson has not compromised on his never-say-die defence, it puts him on course to easily surpass his total of 230 points from last season, when he finished second-top scorer.


Ahead of Toulon’s first fixture of the European Cup this season against Welsh giants Ospreys, Boudjellal believes Wilkinson is showing signs of trying to make amends for the many months he has spent recovering from the injuries that have plagued his career.


“He is happy with the way his body is at the moment, he’s out to make amends” said Boudjellal.


“But at the same time he’s not resting on his laurels. There still isn’t the proper balance between what his head wants him to do and what his legs actually do.


“He is still looking for perfection.”


Wilkinson is known to fill entire notebooks during video sessions, according to Boudjellal: “You would think he’s going home to revise!”


But while the Englishman has almost single-handedly guided Toulon to second place in the standings, he is not being given all the credit.


“Jonny brings us something with his boot, but the forwards’ play this season lets him be more at ease,” said prop Laurent Emmanuelli.


Certainly Wilkinson has benefited from the reinforcing of the scrum during the summer, with the arrivals of outstanding duo Carl Hayman, a former All Black prop, and former Wallaby backrow forward George Smith.


“He is playing with a smile on his face, which is good because he came back from England’s summer tests where he played a marginal role in low spirits,” said Toulon manager Philippe Saint-Andre.


“While he deserves to be enjoying his good form, it is the squad as a whole that is providing the opportunities for him to be good.”


Having settled well into life in and outside the club, a contract extension is in the wings: “The desire is mutual,” said Boudjellal.

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