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Gavin Hastings backs Wilkinson for Lions tour

Updated: Thursday, 23 May 2013 12:31

Jonny Wilkinson has certainly made his mark for his club Toulon
Jonny Wilkinson has certainly made his mark for his club Toulon

Former British and Irish Lions captain Gavin Hastings expects to see Jonny Wilkinson in the fabled red jersey on this summer's tour to Australia.

World Cup-winning former England fly-half Wilkinson has been in imperious form with European champions Toulon this season, but declined an initial approach from Lions head coach Warren Gatland citing club commitments and his weary body.

Yet Wilkinson remains on standby should he be required and with just two number 10s in the 37-man squad - Ireland's Jonathan Sexton and England's Owen Farrell - Hastings anticipates the 33-year-old former Newcastle fly-half will be a late arrival in Australia in time for the first Test in Brisbane on 22 June.

"I think it's likely to happen," Hastings told Press Association Sport at the re-launch of Unibet in the UK where its 'Unibet Summer of Sport' ad campaign featuring Sir Ian Botham, Hastings and Goran Ivanisevic was unveiled.

"If Sexton and Farrell can do well and they play well and they're able to keep fit, perhaps the prospect of Jonny coming out will recede.

"The shorter the time that Jonny has in Australia, the better, I think, the chances are for the Lions.

"The longer he spends there, I'm not convinced his body will want to be training every single day.

"The way he is, so intense and thorough in his preparation, he doesn't need to play in any provincial matches.

"What matters is the Lions winning two out of three Tests. If ever there was an occasion made for Jonny, it would be coming out the week before the first Test and having a role to play."