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Last Updated: Monday, 21 January 2008, 15:59 GMT
Wilkinson extends Newcastle stay
Jonny Wilkinson
Wilkinson helped England reach last year's World Cup final in France
Newcastle fly-half Jonny Wilkinson has pledged his future to the club after signing a new two-year deal.

The 28-year-old World Cup winner is currently in his 11th season with the Falcons and is nine points short of kicking his 2,000th point for the club.

Newcastle's director of rugby John Fletcher said: "This is a massive endorsement of where we are going.

"It's no secret that Jonny has had offers from elsewhere, but this is where he sees his future."

Wilkinson's future at Newcastle was in doubt when the club's fitness coach Steve Black, one of the fly-half's closest confidants, left his post in December.

Wilkinson, who was born in Surrey, joined the Falcons after leaving school in 1997 and has made 163 appearances during his time in the north east.

He helped the club win the Premiership title in 1998 and the Powergen Cup in 2001 and 2004.

He also kicked the winning drop-goal as England won the World Cup in 2003 and played a major role as they reached last year's final in France, losing to South Africa.


"Jonny is an incredible sportsman, a fine character and just a tremendous ambassador for the club and for the region," added Fletcher.

"He is the biggest name in rugby, still the best player in the world in my opinion, and the fact that he wants to stay at Newcastle sends out a clear message about where this club is going and how close it is to his heart.

"This is his home, it's where his pals are and it's where he believes he can fulfil his rugby ambitions, as well as helping the team reach its collective goals."

The announcement comes just days after Newcastle United football club announced their new manager.

Fletcher added: "Kevin Keegan returning to Newcastle United and Jonny Wilkinson staying at the Falcons - it doesn't get much bigger than that if you're a sports fan in this region.

"It's something that all of our supporters should be excited about. We've seen the impact he has made already this season, and we look forward to building this team alongside him over the next two seasons."

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