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England 14:30 New Zealand

Stuart Lancaster pays glowing tribute to retiring Jonny Wilkinson

Last Updated: 19/05/14 9:28pm

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Stuart Lancaster praises Jonny Wilkinson

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England coach Stuart Lancaster has paid a glowing tribute to Jonny Wilkinson after the Toulon fly-half announced his retirement from rugby on Monday.

The 34-year-old has decided to call it a day and will play his final match for the French side in Saturday's Heineken Cup Final against Saracens.

In addition to being England's goal-kicking hero at the 2003 World Cup in Australia, Wilkinson collected 91 caps and was a member of the victorious Toulon side crowned European champions 12 months ago.

And Lancaster has lavished praise on the departing Wilko, saying his influence off the pitch was just as immense as his importance on it.

"Possibly the most influential England player of his generation, up there with the best, but not just on the field," he said.

Legacy

"He delivered so much. It was his execution, his ability to win games, nail the big moments and if he hadn't of had the amount of injuries that he had, he would have won many more international caps.

"But it's his influence off the field as well that defines the legacy that he leaves. His level of preparation and attention to detail off the field was unsurpassed.

"There are so many young players who have seen that and who have been touched by him and involved with him and he has shown them a new level.

"He's influenced so many players, that's probably the biggest legacy that he leaves."

Mike Tindall, a team-mate of Wilkinson's during the 2003 World Cup campaign, said: "Jonny was always the ultimate professional. I was lucky enough to play with him through all the age groups from schoolboys all the way up to the top.

"He was so dedicated to the sport, a student of the sport who always wanted to push boundaries of where he could go and set standards which those around him had to match.

"He single-handedly helped to push England forward and if I'm honest I think Toulon will be desperate to hang on to him and keep him at the club in another role."

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