Claassens waits on Wilko
Fri, 18 Jan 2013 10:46
I've got to make up my mind by some time next month
Springbok scrumhalf Michael Claassens is set to join Toulon at the end of the season if Jonny Wilkinson decides to finally hang up his boots.
The 32-year-old England flyhalf legend will make a call on his future by next month, and his decision will have a major impact on whether Claassens joins the growing legion of Boks at Toulon.
The big-spending French club have versatile French playmaker Frederic Michalak on their books, who should shift from scrumhalf to flyhalf if Wilkinson does decide to end his career, leaving a spot in the starting line-up open for Claassens.
The World Cup-winning Wilkinson is playing in his 13th season of European rugby, having scored 683 points in 54 European appearances for Newcastle Falcons and Toulon, and he is well-aware of the importance of his decision.
"Toulon can't wait until the end of the season," he said.
"They need to move on with their plans in an informed manner. So I've got to make up my mind by some time next month.
"I'm muddled and all over the place on it at the moment. I'm having to escape it, and I enjoy escaping it, and the way I do that is through day-to-day rugby.
"I know that, ultimately, this will be an individual decision from me but, in truth, it will be based on the team as well. I can't, and won't, take away from them."
If Claassens does join Toulon he will form part of a growing number of former Springboks at the club with Bakkies Botha and Danie Rossouw already at the club, Bryan Habana joining in mid-year and former skipper John Smit reportedly on his way there at the end of the season as well.
Bath head coach Gary Gold has confirmed that Claassens has entered talks with Toulon over a potential summer move.
The 30-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and Gold admitted that Claassens has made no secret of his negotiations with the Top 14 glamour club.
"He's been open and honest with us and he is in talks," said Gold.
"I'm sure Michael will tell us as soon as anything can be confirmed."
Claassens has been at The Recreation Ground since 2007, having previously played for the Cheetahs in his homeland, and has made 117 Premiership appearances.
Meanwhile, Gold has said he is already looking at potential signings for the summer.
"Since January we've been allowed to go out and have a look. We've known who is on the market for a while," added Gold.
"We've got a few irons in the fire and some potentially exciting prospects coming through."
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