Former England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson says it would be “amazing” to one day coach his country after announcing he will retire from playing this month.
The 34-year-old will play in the Heineken Cup and Top 14 finals for Toulon,
at which point he will join the French club’s coaching staff.
Oh Jonny boy…..
This is a bit tricky, writing to a man who provided me with so much joy but about whom I know so little. A man who rendered me uncharacteristically emotional and hopelessly drunk, unusually hopeful and boastful………
Wilkinson played 91 times for England, famously kicking a winning drop-goal in the
2003 World Cup final.
“I would love to do [coaching],” said Wilkinson. “With England? Of course.”
Wilkinson’s final two matches will be against Saracens in the Heineken Cup and Castres in the French final.
He is then likely to work closely with Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny, who is joining the French club next season.
“To carry on a team ethic from a coaching perspective would be great,” added Wilkinson, who spent 12 years at Newcastle Falcons
before joining his French club in 2009.
“After playing with so many people who have helped me in my career – guys like Mike Catt and Matt Giteau, I just want to help others get better because I know what a difference it makes to a team.”
Having kicked England to World Cup glory in Sydney, been pivotal in helping them reach the tournament’s final in 2007 and won three Six Nations titles, Wilkinson’s impact on his country has been pronounced.
England’s coaching line-up will remain unchanged until at least after the 2015 World Cup, but current head coach Stuart Lancaster says Wilkinson’s contribution “would be incredible”.
Lancaster, 44, is under contract until after the 2015 Rugby World Cup and “wouldn’t rule out” Wilkinson’s long-term involvement with England.
“When you’ve got someone of his calibre and experience, with such a clear influence on so many people, I would certainly want him to feel part of the England team,” said Lancaster.
“You look back at Jonny’s career and its not the World Cup achievement that stands out, it’s what he was as an individual – so focused, so driven. I remember trying to run over him in training and he gave me two dead legs.
“He’d get up in the morning two hours before everyone else to do his kicking practice and he was a fantastic model as a professional athlete.”
“The decision will remain with him in the first instance, but I would like to make him feel welcome in the broad sense.”
Wilkinson – second only to New Zealand’s Dan Carter for the most points scored in international rugby – made his debut for his country at 18.
He formed part of Newcastle’s title-winning side in 1998, prompting an international call-up from Sir Clive Woodward.
“I think he could be central to another great era for rugby in England in the future,” says Steve Black, his mentor at Newcastle.
“Just about anything in the game is within his capabilities. I’m sure he could end up coaching England, I’m absolutely sure of it.”
19 May 2014 | 10:04 pm – Source: bbc.co.uk