DUBLIN (AFP) –
Jonny Wilkinson admitted Friday that getting a first taste of a European Cup final at the age of 33 represents all he has to play for.
The former England international will be key to Toulon’s hopes of victory in Saturday’s final against fellow French side Clermont.
“There’s no doubt that at this stage in my career, this is all I have got to play for. This gives you an idea of what this represents,” said the 2003 World Cup winner.
“These days, I try to make the most of one match at a time.
“But to have the opportunity to play in a game like this for the first time at this stage of my career, it’s incredible.”
Wilkinson, the leading points scorer in the French Top 14 this season, has known only disappointment in Europe.
He has played in two losing Challenge Cup finals including last year when Toulon were beaten by Toulouse.
But he has been a key player in this season’s European Cup quarter-final and semi-final wins over Leicester and Saracens respectively.
“It was my first semi-final a few weeks ago and this is my first final,” said Wilkinson.
“I realise every day the luck that I have had being here and with this squad which has given me the opportunity. I want to make the most of it.
“I am proud to be here, we have done a lot of work this season.”
Clermont are the favourites on Saturday where they will attempt to become the first team since 1996 to go through the campaign undefeated.
On Saturday, Wilkinson will come up against opposite number, Australian fly-half Brock James who expressed his admiration for the Englishman during the week.
“I have great respect for his play and also for the man he is,” said Wilkinson.
“Having someone like him, that’s good for Clermont. Playing against him will be a big challenge.”