Heineken Cup: Jonny Wilkinson says Matt Giteau was key to victory
Last Updated: 25/05/14 11:03am
Matt Giteau: Slides in for Toulon's first try
Jonny Wilkinson insists Matt Giteau was the unsung hero of Toulon's 23-6 victory over Saracens in the Heineken Cup final.
Wilkinson was the focus of most media attention after his final game on British soil ended in a second straight European crown.
He kicked a flawless 13 points for his team in what, in the end, was a convincing victory.
Steffon Armitage, another Englishman, was named man-of-the-match, but Wilkinson says Australian team-mate Giteau, who plays alongside him at inside centre, deserves at least as much praise.
Giteau scored Toulon's first try and was the perfect foil for Wilkinson throughout.
"Matt's individual contributions to the game were incredible, all the way through," said Wilkinson. "He's a damn good player who can just about do everything, and he's the reason why someone like me realises my time is up.
"You look at him doing what he does, and you think that's where the future of this team is. I certainly want to see him flourish, he's been an inspiration to me, and I know he will be to this team in the future.
"Since he's been here he's done nothing but bring this team up, give them more and make us all better players. I wouldn't survive out there without guys like him, his ability to selflessly do the extra work, take on extra responsibility, make the difficult calls.
"He could say 'that's not my position, that's not my job' but he never does. There have been times during the season where I haven't made the first few kicks, and I've asked him to take the next one and he just steps up and does it.
"He never says anything about it, he just gets on with it, and that's the kind of guy he is."
Wilkinson admits he is uncomfortable with all the attention and praise he has been receiving as he comes to the end of his career.
"You look at him doing what he does, and you think that's where the future of this team is. I certainly want to see him flourish, he's been an inspiration to me, and I know he will be to this team in the future."
"I've made no secret of the fact I've been over-supported, I've been given way too much respect," he said. "I've been given too much of an easy life compared to others who have deserved so much more but haven't had it.
"I've tried to keep my feet on the ground, otherwise someone's going to realise I'm a bit of a fraud.
"You're lucky enough to be surrounded by such quality players, and yet it's not these guys around me that get the adulation and applause.
"When guys go out of their way to cheer for you, it's humbling."