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I'm more laid back now says Jonny.

Byline: By Alan Hedley

Jonny Wilkinson insists he will be directing operations for the Falcons in the new Premiership season.

The England fly-half has been back in training with Newcastle after taking a break following the British Lions Test whitewash by New Zealand.

And he brushed aside any suggestions he is injury jinxed despite being nearly two years on the sidelines following a neck operation and a knee injury.

Both Wilkinson and Newcastle say he has fully recovered from the "stinger" injury to his neck and shoulder which saw him miss the final Test and he will be part of the Falcons squad on their pre-season tour of Japan next week.

"I'm starting with a clean sheet and I'm very excited about the new season," said Wilkinson.

"I don't believe in injury jinxes. Just because I had a knee injury which followed a neck operation doesn't mean I'm injury jinxed.

"I'll admit it's been a hell or a period and it's amazing how your life can change when you seem to be sailing along okay.

"To have all of what I enjoyed doing stripped away from me twice in succession seemed almost too much to bear, but I have grown up a lot, learned to be more laid back and it's taught me to go out there and enjoy it."

Wilkinson won't be Newcastle captain this season ( that role goes to Welsh back row Colin Charvis and the change meets with Wilkinson's approval.

"I expect Colin to do exactly as he did at the end of last season which is to lead from the front," said Wilkinson.

"He seemed to be everywhere which made the number of his back largely irrelevant.

"I can't see not being captain will change my role in the team very much.

"I see myself as a leader and directing things and I doubt it will stop me shouting like I usually do.

"But it's nice to have Charvs taking on the captaincy role and allowing me to concentrate on doing my own thing."

Newcastle boss Rob Andrew has changed captains to give Wilkinson "some space."

He added: "We have bolstered our squad and in my opinion this is the best squad we have had in my time here."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 12, 2005
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