Jonny Wilkinson, fresh from kicking his side Toulon to their Heineken Cup triumph and being named European Player of the Year, told British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland on Monday he would happily be on standby for the tour of Australia.
The 33-year-old flyhalf had ruled himself out as his priorities lay with his club, but having come through unscathed after a series of impressive displays that took Toulon to their first Heineken Cup, he is ready to be called on if needed.
“I’ve been asked if I’ll be an injury replacement. I’ve said: ‘Quite happily,’” British media quoted Wilkinson, who kicked all Toulon’s points in the Heineken Cup quarter-final and semi-final, and was instrumental in Saturday’s 16-15 success over Clermont Auvergne, as saying.
“I’m happy to give it all I’ve got. If I can physically front up to being there if there’s an injury then great,” he said.
He would not be available for the Lions’ opening tour match as Toulon play in the French Top 14 semi-finals on Friday, with the final being played on the day the Lions play the Barbarians.
“I appreciate that everyone needs to be together [on the flight] and I certainly can’t guarantee that,” Wilkinson said.
“Let me get to the end of the season and see if I’m not the one who needs replacing, rather than the one who goes out there. I can’t guarantee the state I’ll be in. The body is getting to the state where I am trying to stay [at this level],” he added.
The former England international, who kicked the drop-goal that won the World Cup for his country in 2003, has battled many injuries over the years and was delighted on Sunday to have won the Player of the Year award at such a late stage in his career.