THOSE who longed to see Jonny Wilkinson in a British Lions shirt had those hopes dashed as Warren Gatland selected a squad for this summer’s tour of Hong Kong and Australia that has a strong Welsh accent.
It seemed that once again Wilko had timed his moment to perfection as he once again meticulously outlined his strengths with a match-winning display at Twickenham.
England’s 2003 World cup hero rolled back the years to out-shine the latest young pretender to his throne as he scored all the victors’ points as his Toulon side edged out Owen Farrell and Saracens 24-12 at headquarters to make the Heineken Cup final an all-French affair – Clermont Auvergne having won the other semi against Munster.
Wilkinson’s pragmatic approach to winning rugby matches has not always won him friends, and since his pomp – when his selection for England could not be questioned – he has gained a touch of the Marmite syndrome with discussions over the merits of his international selection seemingly taking a ‘love/hate’ dimension.
For those of us who quickly grew to love the metronomic regularity of Wilkinson’s kicking, it does seem a bit of a shame he will not have one last shot at a top class tour.
However, the man himself probably was not of a similar mind.
His Toulon teammate Andrew Sheridan pretty much summed it up when he said of Wilkinson’s feelings on the Lions: “He’s very happy like we all are down in the south of France.”
It must be something to do with the weather and the close proximity of the beach that makes it so appealing, so you kind of understand where Sheridan is coming from.
As to the rest of Gatland’s selection, the surprises really were few and far between – especially given the Kiwi’s bias when it comes to northern hemisphere rugby.
Wales star Sam Warburton was named Lions captain, while there was no place among the 38-man squad for England skipper Chris Robshaw.
Given the upshot of the Six Nations and Wales showing the strength to overpower an England side who had been expected to be able to summon up enough to the title in the deciding game at the Millennium Stadium, it is perhaps understandable that Warburton will be heading a squad that includes 14 of his compatriots.
And at least when it gets to the heat of battle against the Wallabies, at least the majority of the touring players out there will instinctively pass to a red shirt.