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Cup final is all I've got left – Wilko

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Toulon captain Jonny Wilkinson during the Heineken Cup Final captains run at the Aviva Stadium

Toulon captain Jonny Wilkinson during the Heineken Cup Final captains run at the Aviva Stadium

Toulon captain Jonny Wilkinson during the Heineken Cup Final captains run at the Aviva Stadium

Jonny Wilkinson gazed deeply at the Heineken Cup as he considered Toulon's title showdown with Clermont Auvergne in Dublin and declared: "This is all I have got to play for."

Wilkinson, 33, is aware of his rugby mortality, having thought about retirement in January before signing a one-season deal with Toulon.

So battered and bruised does he feel that Wilkinson turned down an invitation to join the British and Irish Lions squad.

Wilkinson has won Rugby World Cup, Grand Slam and Six Nations honours with England – but glory on the European club stage has escaped him.

There is a sense that victory in this evening's all-French final, no matter what Toulon manage to achieve in the Top 14, would complete a stellar career.

"There is no doubt that where I stand now this is all I have got to play for," Wilkinson said.

AMAZING

"To actually get a shot at something like this at this stage in your career is amazing."

Wilkinson twice tasted defeat in the Amlin Challenge Cup final and Toulon were beaten in last year's Top 14 final by Toulouse. The two sides meet again next week at the semi-final stage.

It is 20 years since the French club won a major trophy and if they do triumph in Dublin then Wilkinson will cement his place as a cult hero on the Cote d'Azur.

Wilkinson's performances in the quarter-final victory over Leicester and semi-final defeat of Saracens at Twickenham propelled him onto the shortlist for European Player Of The Year.

Former England coach Brian Ashton believes Wilkinson is playing the best rugby of his career. The player himself credited his team-mates.

Wilkinson will be joined by four Englishmen in the Toulon squad – Delon Armitage, Andrew Sheridan and Nick Kennedy are in the starting XV and Steffon Armitage is on the bench.

Clermont are seeking to become the first unbeaten Heineken Cup winners since Toulouse in 1996.


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