Rugby

Tindall salutes Wilkinson

2014-05-19 21:00
Jonny Wilkinson (Getty)

London - Mike Tindall has hailed Jonny Wilkinson as the "ultimate professional" after his fellow 2003 World Cup-winner announced his retirement on Monday.

Flyhalf star Wilkinson is set to bring down the curtain on his 17-year career following Toulon's final two games of this season, where he will try to help the French club complete a European Cup and Top 14 double.

"He was always the ultimate professional and I was lucky to play with him through all the age groups," said Gloucester player-coach Tindall, set to confirm his own retirement from playing in the near future.

As a centre, the 35-year-old Tindall -- a few months older than Wilkinson -- was well-placed to observe the outside-half's work.

"We played on the schoolboy tour of 1997 all the way up to the top," he said.

"He was completely dedicated to the sport; he's a student of the sport and always wanted to push the boundaries of where he wanted to go. He set standards people had to match who played with him and he single-handedly helped push England forward."

As for his memories of England's World Cup triumph in Australia 11 years ago, where Wilkinson's extra-time drop-goal sealed victory in the final against the Wallabies in Sydney, Tindall said: "It was four years in the making.

"Following the 1999 World Cup, the whole (England coach) Clive Woodward goal was to win it in 2003.

"It was a strange feeling after that, as you have focused on it for four years and you end up asking more questions about what's next and what you do from there.

"You enjoy the moment but it was the accumulation of four years of hard graft and satisfaction.

"It was made for Wilko to finish it off in the way that he does. He missed two attempts at a drop-goal with his favoured left foot so he decided to knock it over with his right and that's the type of bloke he was."

Current England coach Stuart Lancaster said Wilkinson was "the most influential player in the English rugby game I'd say and certainly right up there with the very, very best".

"His execution, the ability to win games on his own, nail the big moments -- everything really is fantastic about his career."

Lancaster added: "His level of preparation and attention to detail off the field was unsurpassed and then you've got so many young players who've seen that, been touched by it and have been involved with him and thought 'actually, I thought I was working hard to be the best I can be but this guy has shown me there is a different level'.

"He's had a huge influence on so many players and that's probably the legacy that he leaves."

Read more on:    toulon  |  jonny wilkinson  |  mike tindall  |  rugby
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