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Wilkinson in the picture for British & Irish Lions tour

Jonny Wilkinson could feature on his third British and Irish Lions tour

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Article Published: Friday 14 December 2012






British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has confirmed that former England fly half is being considered for next year's tour of Australia but warns that Toulon's success my prevent him from going.

Wilkinson has retired from playing international rugby for England but could still feature for the British and Irish Lions on their tour of Australia in 2013.

Wilkinson's Toulon club lead the French Top14 by five points and are on course to make the play offs next year.

However the Top14 Rugby final has been scheduled to take place on the 1st of June which is the same day that the Lions start their tour in Hong Kong.

"If we take the France-based players, our preferred option is that they are on the plane with us," Gatland said.

"We know what a quality player Jonny is. He is out of international rugby but he is playing in a side that is winning, and he is definitely one we are keeping an eye on.

"The most difficult thing is we will be getting the squad together for almost the first time on the plane.

"But if you look at guys at Toulon for example, they could be playing in a final the same day as our first game in Hong Kong. So it is going to be difficult to integrate them and get them to be a part of the tour.

"It is not something we need to commit to now, and we will look at the strength-in-depth in certain positions, and injuries, but the idea is to have everyone on the plane together."

Wales fly half Rhys Priestland is in a battle against time to reach fitness for the Lions after and has been ruled out of the Six Nations with a snapped achilles tendon.

Priestland's injury puts the race for the Lions number 10 jersey down to England's Toby Flood, Owen Farrell and Ireland's Jonny Sexton.

Gatland admitted that there is plenty of quality and depth in the Six Nations players in the second row, back row, centres and back three but said that he was still waiting for candidates at scrum-half, fly-half, prop and hooker to stake claims.

"Those are probably the four positions where there are definitely opportunities for players to cement themselves," he told BBC Sport.

"When you look at the other positions, there are a huge amount of candidates and depth in those areas, and there are going to be some very disappointed players when the final squad is announced."

Gatland and his assistant coaches Graham Rowntree, Andy Farrell and Rob Howley met yesterday for the announcement of the coaching and they discussed what the team would like like if they picked it now discounting players who are currently out injured.

"When we finished, we were very excited about what that squad and team would look like, and the potential of that team. "

"There is real depth in certain positions, where we have got a lot of choice," added the head coach.

"At the moment we have got a group of names down on a list that we are going to track, as well as the injured players."

"Then players are going to put their hands up in the Six Nations so we feel we are well placed from a selection point of view."

 
 
 
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