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Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Bates 'assumes' Wilkinson to stay

Jonny Wilkinson
Wilkinson speaks French fluently and has been linked with a move abroad

Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Steve Bates says he "assumes" England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson will still be at the club next season.

There has been speculation that Wilkinson is set to move to France.

"If Jonny or his advisers come to us with something concrete and say this is what's happening, then we take it from there," said Bates.

"But at the moment I am assuming that isn't happening and that he will still be here next season."

Bates added: "As far as I'm concerned we're in exactly the same position as we have always been with Jonny.

"We're saying get yourself fit, and concentrate on that."

Wilkinson had been due to return from injury this weekend but a minor setback has delayed his return from a dislocated knee-cap.

Toulon chairman Mourad Boudjellal met Wilkinson on Saturday and the 29-year-old, who speaks French fluently, has also been linked with Parisian club Racing Metro as well as Bayonne.

"We welcomed him, he was happy and now he's gone," Toulon's Boudjellal, who is a multimillionaire, told L'Equipe on Saturday.


Toulon have already signed Argentina fly-half Felipe Contepomi for next season, when they will be coached by former France international Philippe Saint-Andre.

Wilkinson is working his way back to fitness after two knee operations, the latest in a series of injuries that have hit the Englishman since the 2003 World Cup.

English players Riki Flutey, James Haskell and Tom Palmer have all recently agreed to join French clubs.

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see also
Bath v Newcastle (Sat)
18 Mar 09 |  English
Falcons pair sign new contracts
18 Mar 09 |  Newcastle
Falcons expect Wilkinson to stay
28 Feb 09 |  Newcastle
Trio quit Wasps to play in France
17 Feb 09 |  London Wasps
England talent drain worries RFU
19 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Wilkinson key for Falcons - Bates
19 Sep 08 |  Newcastle
Wilkinson: The Comeback King
04 Feb 07 |  Rugby Union

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