Sale Sharks boss Philippe Saint-Andre admitted he didn't want to bring
England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson to his new club Toulon.
Saint-Andre confessed that Wilkinson had been his third choice to lead
the French side's back line because he was 'always injured' and 'too
Toulon's new director had been reluctant to take a leap of faith with
WIlkinson and it wasn't until the club's millionaire owner, Mourad
Boudjellal, stepped in promising to personally foot the bill for the
England international that the Frenchman agreed.
To a shocked audience at a Stockport Rugby Club bash, Saint-Andre
explained: "I didn't want to bring Jonny WIlkinson to France because I
thought he would be too expensive.
"He was-my third choice fly-half and he was not within my budget.
"I thought that his wages were going to be too high and he
by Cheryl Latham
at Stockport Rugby Club
was always injured.
"He had a 12 per cent difference between his left and right quad and he
hadn't played for seven months.
"But my chairman was very enthusiastic about Jonny because we needed to
good shake-up, so he said he would pick two players and their wages
would come from him and not out of my budget"
But Saint-Andre said that since taking a closer look at the England
number 10 he's proved to be fully fit.
"Jonny came to France and had scans, scans, scans and more scans. And
now, he's perfect," said Saint-Andre.
Wilkinson joins Sharks internationals Rory Lamont, Sebastien Bruno and
Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe at the cash-rich French side.
Former France captain Saint-Andre, who was capped 69
|times for his
country, said top
players are making their way across the Channel because not enough
revenue is generated in
English rugby to keep them here.
"It's a shame so many players are going but it's your fault because not
enough people go to
the game," he said.
"In Marseille we will be playing in front of 65,000 people, but at Sale
we only got 6,800.
"That's not enough."
Sale Sharks have been drawn alongside Toulouse, Harlequins and Cardiff
Blues in next season's Heineken Cup.
Director of Rugby Kingsley Jones said: "It's a very difficult looking
group on paper.
"WInning our home games will be a priority and we will need to pick
something up on our travels too.
"Cardiff were very unlucky last season to go out the way they did and
Quins put up a great
fight against Leinster. Toulouse will be looking to improve on their
form in the competition
over the past couple of years"