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Wilkinson stars ahead of British Lions squad announcement

| 01.04.2013

A timely performance from evergreen fly-half Jonny Wilkinson has potentially seen him edge Owen Farrell out of the British Lions tour before Warren Gatland names his final squad on Tuesday.

In the build-up to the Saracens v Toulon Heineken Cup semi-final, much was made of the battle between Wilkinson, who steered his country to World Cup glory in 2003, and England No. 10 incumbent Farrell, who has guided the side with such distinction over the past 14 months.

And it was 33-year-old Wilkinson who came out on top, scoring all of his side’s points in a 24-12 victory. His man of the match winning stats almost identically mirrored his MOM showing in the quarter-final, where he kicked six-from-six, this weekend it was seven-from-seven.

Ladbrokes now make him an odds on shot (5/6) to tour Australia, and 5/1 to start the first Test at pivot. Remarkable considering he was 100/1 to start in the series opener when the book opened.

With Warren Gatland and his coaching staff in the stands at Twickenham, Wilkinson conducted proceedings with a serene composure  that has come to define him; he kicked his sixth and final penalty from two meters inside his own half before landing a trademark drop-goal six minutes from time.

Gatland will surely be looking for contrasts in his squad and Farrell is much the same mold as Wilkinson; hard in the tackle, deadly in-front of goal and unflappable under intense pressure.

But on this evidence Wilkinson slightly edges the head-to-head, and frankly what is the benefit of taking two players with duplicate skill sets?

With Johnny Sexton a certain pick, the Lions don’t need both of the Englishmen, there is more use in taking James Hook, who is playing so well for Perpignan.

Hook has plied his trade at fly-half, centre and full-back at Test match level, and his versatility coupled with a genuine attacking flare could result in Farrell missing the cut.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Author

Liam Clarke