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Jonny Wilkinson: Toulon star says hard work, not dreaming, wins trophies
Jonny Wilkinson says images of lifting the Heineken Cup are not filling his mind as rumours of his potential retirement spread.
Newspaper reports revealed on Monday that the fly-half is set to hang up his goal-laden boots at the end of the campaign, almost 11 years after kicking England to glory in the World Cup.
The 34-year-old remained vague on his future plans during a chat with The Rugby Club, but did explain that he is hopeful of adding to his trophy collection – which includes a Premiership win with Newcastle – this term.
Hoisting the Heineken Cup aloft with Toulon for the second season running remains a possibility, with the French outfit battling Leinster in the quarter-finals on Sunday week.
But Wilkinson insists only hard work, not dreaming of a “fairy-tale ending”, will make that happen.
“The thought of being able to continue in the Heineken Cup is an exciting one as to know that you are closer to the opportunity to lift silverware is what it is all about,” said Wilkinson, whose side currently sit third in the Top 14, the spot they have finished in for the past two years.
“But I tend not to focus too much on fairy-tale endings as you then work backwards – and the game of rugby is not like that for me.
“It is a day-by-day, forward-moving thing, where you get out there and give it everything every day to try and get better and help the team get better.
“If you don’t do that throughout the week, then the weekend gets harder.”
Will Greenwood and Martin Corry won the World Cup alongside Wilkinson in 2003 and both were glowing in their praise of the London-born star when they entered The Rugby Club studio.
Greenwood explained how Wilkinson changed the mentality of senior players within the Red Rose camp.
And Corry – who also teamed with the goal kicker in the 2007 World Cup, in which England recovered from a 36-0 humbling against South Africa in the pool stage to make the final – revealed the effect he had on his colleagues.
Greenwood said: “We all wished to win and wanted to win but Jonny taught us what it took to go out there and make that win happen.
“His dedication to his training – not just from the goal-kicking perspective but from a personal fitness point of view – was quite frightening.
“It was a stark realisation for those that had come through the amateur era and thought this was all a bit of a laugh that it wasn’t good enough just to be there.
“He changed the mindset of a lot of senior players – even after two or three caps.”
Corry added: “What he doesn’t get enough credit for is his smartness and his ability to bring the best out of himself and the players around him – and that’s where he really stepped forward in 2007.
“After the heavy defeat to South Africa everyone was looking around for solutions and Wilko remained a calming and authoritative influence and everyone stood up and took note.”