Heineken Cup final: Jonny Wilkinson lavishes praise on Owen Farrell
Last Updated: 20/05/14 8:05am
Jonny Wilkinson: Lavished praise on Owen Farrell
Jonny Wilkinson has backed fellow fly-half Owen Farrell to be a success for club and country for years to come as he prepares to face him in Saturday's Heineken Cup final.
Wilkinson has announced he will retire at the end of the season and will take on Farrell when his Toulon side take on Saracens at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Wilkinson was a lynchpin of England's glory years under Sir Clive Woodward and he believes 22-year-old Farrell can have a similar impact in the future.
"I think Owen Farrell and Saracens or Owen Farrell and England at the moment are very much the same thing," said Wilkinson.
"He is a representation of all that is good in those teams at the moment in terms of his skill level, his understanding of the game, leadership qualities and such like.
"I think the consistency of his performance and also his mental toughness, which is quite something to behold, has given a huge amount of strength and solidity to all the teams he plays in.
"He seems to be a guy you are able to build things around because of that consistency and that mental ability to keep going and pushing further and going into some of the harshest rugby environments there are, and really dominate."
Wilkinson's final game before retiring will come at the Stade de France in the Top 14 final but he must first focus his attentions on helping stop Saracens and England No 8 Billy Vunipola in Cardiff.
"I was at the France-England game (this season) and could see that guys like him would be the future of rugby itself," added Wilkinson.
"It's very exciting to see the professionalism taking hold, the games getting quicker and more skilful.
"Billy, although he is playing with a number eight on his back, is capable of doing pretty much anything. These are the guys we will be watching for many years to come.
"Of all the stadiums I've played at during my career there aren't too many better than the ones where we are going to be playing for our last two finals.
"You can say it's great to have this moment, great to have this opportunity, but ultimately it's great to be playing rugby and just to be alive in the tournament at this stage of the season."
Watch the Heineken Cup final this Saturday on Sky 3D and Sky Sports 2. Coverage begins at 4pm.