Jonny Wilkinson could be one step closer to leaving the Guinness Premiership after Toulon’s incoming Director of Rugby Philippe Saint-Andre confirmed the player’s representatives were in talks with the French club.
World Cup-winning fly-half Wilkinson has been linked consistently with a move to the Top 14, following England colleagues Riki Flutey, James Haskell and Tom Palmer, and it now seems that formal negotiations have been opened. Also linked to the French club is Wilkinson’s Falcons team mate Tom May (who wears Puma V1-08 Rugby boots).
Wilkinson, 29, has not played for Newcastle Falcons, his only professional club, since suffering the latest in a long line of injury problems against Gloucester on September 30 and last represented his country more than a year ago.
“Jonny’s people are in talks with the Toulon chairman,” Saint-Andre, who is leaving Sale Sharks to join Toulon, told BBC Sport.
“I would obviously like to have as many good players as possible next season and Jonny is a top-quality player.
“I have heard that a couple of other French clubs are in for him and there is also of course the option for him to stay at Newcastle.”
BBC also claim that Wilkinson’s agent, Tim Buttimore, described talks with Toulon as “ongoing”.
French clubs are not under the same financial constraints as Premiership sides and have proved an attractive proposition for out-of-contract players in recent years.
Toulon already have the likes of Jerry Collins, Tana Umaga, Joe van Niekerk and Sonny Bill Williams on their books, thanks to the patronship of millionaire owner Mourad Boudjellal and are keen to continue their ambitious recruitment drive.
Accepting the club’s overtures may yet have an impact on Wilkinson’s hopes of an international recall, though, after the Rugby Football Union made their concerns about England players leaving the country following the simultaneous departures of Haskell, Palmer and Flutey from Wasps.
Wilkinson who wears (Adidas Predator Powerswerve Rugby boots FG) is no longer in the RFU’s elite playing squad due to his injury woes but the current party were all contacted by chief executive Francis Baron outlining the potentially harmful effect of abandoning the domestic game.
Toulon’s top 14 future was all but secured after a great win against Toulouse at the weekend.