Wilkinson 'of old' resurfaces in Toulon - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wilkinson 'of old' resurfaces in Toulon

By Luke Phillips 19/09/2010 10:51:48 AM Comments (0)

Jonny Wilkinson was hailed as a "great" and back to the form that saw him win the 2003 World Cup with England after another dominant Top 14 display for his French club Toulon.

Wilkinson has been in fantastic form for the Mediterranean city, racking up a further 23 points in Saturday's 28-16 win over defending champions Clermont.

That takes the former Newcastle outside-half's points haul in seven games this season to 102, with only Racing-Metro counterpart Jonathan Wisniewski ahead, by two points.

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal was effusive in his praise of "Wilko" after he nailed five penalties, two drop-goals and one conversion to add to a try by captain Joe Van Niekerk to secure victory over Clermont.

"Thanks to all the team, we played a fantastic second-half," said the president who made his fortunes from the comic book industry.

"Wilkinson is one of the best outside-halves in the history of rugby, he showed that today. We rediscovered the Jonny of the 2003 vintage.

"It's a Jonny who, in my eyes, is much stronger than last season."

Wilkinson, 31, famously booted the extra-time drop-goal to beat Australia to claim the World Cup in 2003, and has gone on to notch up 1,111 points in 80 internationals for England (and a further 67 in six British and Irish Lions Test matches).

"He is absolutely 100 percent committed to the club," Boudjellal said of Wilkinson, on whom he has pinned his hopes for progressing in the European Cup.

His high-profile signing from Newcastle raised many an eyebrow, not least because Wilkinson had spent a large period on the sidelines through a depressing list of varying injuries.

But, with Wilkinson and veteran France scrum-half Pierre Mignoni pulling the strings, Boudjellal's assembled squad of stars and solid journeymen are starting to gel on the pitch under the watchful eye of new coach Philippe Saint-Andre.

The Englishman's presence in Toulon also has the added bonus of allowing Boudjellal to capitalise on the number 10's appeal as a marketing tool, be it in English or French.

"I have people who have private boxes at Mayol stadium and who come by private jet from London when Jonny Wilkinson plays," Boudjellal has said.

"There are also trips organised for English communities.

"When you recruit a player, his price, it's his salary and the attraction of what it brings."

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