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Latest update : 2009-07-02

England scrum-half Jonny Wilkinson's first training session for his new club, the French Top 14 side Toulon, attracted a 5,000-strong crowd. The world champion ended a 12-year run in the English Premiership when he signed with Toulon.

AFP - A 5,000-strong crowd turned out to watch Jonny Wilkinson take part in his first training session in Toulon for his new club, the French Top 14 side, on Thursday.

The England scrum-half, speaking in the language of his adopted homeland, said: "It was fantastic, a unique atmosphere, lots of energy.

"The fans here are a big support to the side. For me it's a nice experience and I hope it will be a memorable season and fantastic also for the supporters."

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal, watching his latest catch in kicking practice, said: "It's Wilkinson who is for the first time on the pitch at Mayol, kicking, it's an important moment!"

Boudjellal added: "For sure there's a lot of proud at seeing so many people in the stand waiting for Wilkinson but this isn't a project designed to have pride it's designed to bring happiness."

Thursday's training was taken by Philippe Saint-Andre who said of Wilikinson: "He's in fine form, he comfortably passed the medical tests, he proved that he was very well. He's hungry for rugby."

Wilkinson ended a 12-year spell with English Premiership side Newcastle, the only club he has ever played for as a professional, in May when he signed for Toulon in a deal worth up to one million euros.

Since kicking the drop-goal that won England the 2003 World Cup final against Australia in Sydney, Wilkinson's career has been blighted by a succession of injuries.

But he said on arriving in Toulon that he felt a decade younger.

Date created : 2009-07-02