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Page last updated at 13:14 GMT, Friday, 19 September 2008 14:14 UK

Wilkinson key for Falcons - Bates

Jonny Wilkinson
Wilkinson made his return against Northampton on Sunday

Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Steve Bates is adamant fly-half Jonny Wilkinson has an important role to play in the outcome of their season.

Wilkinson, 29, returned after a six-month lay-off in Sunday's 32-22 win at Northampton and Bates admitted the England star remains a special talent.

"He's a world class player and what he is extremely good at is scoring points," he told BBC Radio Newcastle.

"His general approach is very, very focused on winning."

Meanwhile Bates has targeted improvement from his squad despite gaining only their second league win since he took charge at Kingston Park in March 2008.

The victory against Northampton was indebted to a spirited second-half display from the Falcons and Bates is keen to tap into those battling qualities over the coming weeks.

"We're concerned about some of our decision making at the back and some areas of our kicking game weren't as precise as we would like.

"In the second half we played a more sensibly tactics wise and that created much more of a platform for us.

"We've taken some of the bits of the second half and tried to develop those and we've taken the poorer side of our kicking game and worked on those as well."

see also
Jeremy Guscott column
19 Sep 08 |  English
Buist hails Newcastle camaraderie
17 Sep 08 |  Newcastle
Newcastle 32-22 Northampton
14 Sep 08 |  English

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