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  Tuesday, 27 August, 2002, 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
My greatest ambition

In his first exclusive article, Newcastle and England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson tells BBC Sport Online that he wants to succeed Martin Johnson as England captain.

Well, here we go again.

The rugby bandwagon keeps on rolling and I can hardly believe the summer is virtually over.

I have to say that I'm delighted to have had a good break.

Wilkinson: The England captaincy is something I've got to strive towards
Last year's Lions tour truly took its toll and I was determined to get my body physically prepared for the season this time around.

There's a massive 18 months ahead and so much to discuss already.

A number of clubs have made some interesting summer signings, there's two new-look European competitions and - something that keeps me awake at night - the question of whether anybody can stop Leicester from reaching a fifth consecutive Zurich Premiership title?

But first I'd like to put down a personal marker for myself.

Being given the Newcastle captaincy is an incredible honour. I've been at the club for five years and to run out at Kingston Park as captain will be a dream come true.

Newcastle is a place I love to be and it will be all the more exciting when the new south stand has been completed.

But I can't pretend that my ambitions end there.

Following up my club captaincy with leading out England remains one of my foremost ambitions
When you start the game you set your goals as high as they possibly can be, and following up my club captaincy with leading out England remains one of my foremost ambitions.

I've got a huge amount of respect for people like Martin Johnson, Lawrence Dallaglio, Neil Back and Matt Dawson who have captained the side and done it so well.

Captaining your country is something that any player longs to do.

When I first turned professional I can remember thinking to myself: 'What's the ultimate achievement? Whose managed to do it? And do I want to get that far?'

And my answer has always been a desperate 'yes'.

I want to be able to finish the game and say that I achieved everything. If I don't, then I certainly want to be able to say that I gave it my best shot.

The captaincy is one of those special things, although it remains to be seen whether it's something I'm capable of achieving.

That's something I've got to discover and an ambition I've got to strive towards.

There's no guarantee, of course. But it's what I plan to use as motivation in the seasons ahead.

Back to more pressing matters, we had a poor finish to last season with the 60-9 defeat against Gloucester.

But, as a squad, we're progressing all the time. We've got a superb young side and it's important that we keep out feet on the ground and realise the opportunity that we've got in front of us.

Leicester have set new standards in club rugby, says Wilkinson
Of course, every side makes their own opportunities and when you look at the sides who will again be challenging for the Premiership, you don't have to look much further than Leicester.

The Tigers have put down a marker over the past few seasons which others now have to strive for.

Newcastle and every other team have to reach their levels of ambition and professionalism - though that's easier said than done.

Elsewhere, as I said, there is an enormous amount of rugby to be played over the next 16 months.

The Six Nations is fast approaching and the Rugby World Cup is already on the horizon.

True, it's a long way off, but it's already producing a few tingles down my spine.

That said, a year is a long time in rugby and as captain it's vital that I get both myself and the players to concentrate on one challenge at a time.

And present - all out thoughts are concentrated on our first game of the season against Wasps.

We want to start the season as we aim to end it - with a victory.

Jonny Wilkinson
"I've had a lot of time to put things right"

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12 Aug 02 | English
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