Jonny Wilkinson has revealed the reasons behind his decision to reject a call-up for the British & Irish Lions.
The former England international fly half has been in sparkling form for Toulon this season, guiding them to second in the Top 14 table and a Heineken Cup final against current leaders Clermont Auvergne.
His commitment to the French club was always going to make the possibility of joining the Lions in Australia a difficult one, but the call did come from Warren Gatland to be part of the 37-man side.
However, the 33-year-old resisted the opportunity for an international swan song Down Under, insisting his ‘absolute priority’ lies with the Bernard Laporte’s side.
"If Toulon manage to get through to the final of the Top 14 my absolute priority lies with them," he told The Times.
"It is, after all, these guys who have got me to the stage where I could even be considered for the Lions."
Wilkinson, who made 91 appearances and six for the Lions, underwent a groin operation back in January, also told Gatland that he was unsure if his body would be able to cope with the demands of such a massive tour.
The Lions fly to Hong Kong for a match against the Barbarians on June 1st – the same day as the Top 14 final – before nine additional matches in Australia, including the three test matches.
"It was a hugely proud moment for me to be called by Warren Gatland, to be told that they were thinking of me in this way," added the legendary number 10.
"I was phenomenally proud to be considered for the Lions so it's very disappointing that I'm unavailable."
Their may still be a silver lining later in the tour however, with Gatland revealing yesterday that Wilkinson could join up with the squad later in the tour if injury affects the camp.