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Hayman lauds Wilkinson as potential coach

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Sportal.co.nz     29 Apr 2014     Getty Images

Hayman first played with Wilkinson when joining the World Cup winning five-eighth at Newcastle in 2007 and then joined him in Toulon in 2010.

Hayman told PA Sport that wherever you went in the world everyone knew Wilkinson.

"But it's not until you actually meet the guy that you truly understand just how much of an impact he has had on the game.

"His attitude towards his training, how he sets such a great example for what a professional should be; he will be a big loss to the game, from a playing perspective, if he does retire this year," Hayman said.

The former All Black said Wilkinson's passion for rugby was likely to see him stay involved in the game and he felt in time he would make a top coach.

"It's something that he does naturally, when we were in Newcastle and here in Toulon, he has always spent time with guys after training, giving guys points on their kicking or their passing game, or even just little skills drills that will help them on the field."

Because all that came naturally to Wilkinson, Hayman said it would be a natural progression for Wilkinson to move into coaching.

He might take a break but if he found he couldn't shake his passion he could easily move into coaching, he said.

"Like a lot of people, I'd never seen someone dedicate so much of themselves to their sport when I arrived in Newcastle, and that's coming from New Zealand and being involved with the All Blacks for a long time," Hayman said.

"There's a lot of people who invest a lot of time as you can imagine in New Zealand, but Jonny's an exceptional character in that regard, that he's so dedicated to the sport.

"And I guess the results that he's achieved through his dedication speak for themselves, the accuracy in his kicking, the level of his skills, they are always top-notch," Hayman said.