Toulon backs Wilkinson's England aims - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Toulon backs Wilkinson's England aims

08/07/2009 08:18:03 PM Comments (0)

French club Toulon are to allow new star Jonny Wilkinson to link up with his England colleagues at a pre-season August training camp even though the French league season will start just days afterwards.

Wilkinson, who is embarking on a two-year adventure with the southern outfit after joining from Newcastle, was named on Tuesday in England's 32-man squad for the new season and will join the August 9 to 14 training camp as England prepare for November tussles with Australia, Argentina and New Zealand.

The French season, meanwhile, starts the weekend of August 14 to 16.

But Toulon chairman Mourad Boudjellal says he will stick by his agreement with World Cup-winning fly-half Wilkinson to allow him to attend the camp.

"We have signed a convention with the English federation. We will not oppose his presence in this training camp, nor at any other," Boudjellal told L'Equipe sports daily.

"When we signed him, we knew that could happen."

Boudjellal said he hopes that Wilkinson will be available in any case to start the domestic campaign.

"He needs to play, he knows that, and it is possible that he negotiates his presence with us," Boudjellal added.

"But once again, in principle, we will not oppose his departure" for the training camp.

Wilkinson has England releases written into his Toulon contract.

He has not played competitively since dislocating his knee playing for Newcastle in October but was present at pre-season training with Toulon last week, when thousands of fans turned out to greet the club's marquee signing.

On that occasion Wilkinson said he was looking forward to a "memorable and fantastic season".

Riki Flutey, who has signed for another French side, Brive, was, like Wilkinson, included in the England training squad although the other French-based England players - Iain Balshaw, Tom Palmer, James Haskell, Andy Goode, Steve Thompson and Tom May - were not.

Flutey will miss the start of the season in any case as he must observe a statutory eight-week break from action having just returned from the British and Irish Lions Tour of South Africa.

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