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Last Updated: Monday, 24 November, 2003, 03:35 GMT
Wilkinson: Rugby comes first
England's Jonny Wilkinson
England's World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson has said he will not let the promise of lucrative contracts ruin his rugby career.

The England fly-half enhanced his position as one of the most marketable sportsman in Britain when he kicked England to victory with an extra-time drop-goal against Australia on Saturday.

But the Newcastle captain, who has also been named international player of the year, has warned that those queuing up to offer him millions could have a frustrating time.

"My work ethic is that rugby takes precedence over everything," said Wilkinson. "If anything even remotely detracts from my life in a rugby sense it gets binned.

"If I have to kick longer because I don't feel it's going well then whatever was supposed to be in that hour goes to waste.

"When I prepare well I feel happy. If I've not done as much as I can I don't play well and you can wave goodbye to everything else."

The England team's plane is scheduled to arrive at Heathrow at 0500 GMT on Tuesday.

Plans to honour Clive Woodward's side include a victory parade in central London and a Downing Street party hosted by Tony Blair.

Wilkinson accepts he will have to learn to handle the extra attention the World Cup has generated.

I wanted to get photos with the guys - with Mike Catt and Matt Dawson
Jonny Wilkinson
"I feel like a very proud member of a very proud team," he said. "We know how hard we have worked in the last year or two. We've had a hard time out here and we've had to pull together and dig deep.

"I don't want to waste any opportunities in my career. I can't afford to feel like I have any regrets. I'm going at it full on and I want to be part of a fantastic team.

"If that brings attention that gets a bit much now and again that's something I'll have to learn to deal with."

The 24-year-old, who finished the World Cup as top points scorer with 113, admitted that he did not want Saturday to end.

"My mind was on the people who support me - my family, my friends and team-mates," he said.

"I wanted to get photos with the guys. I wanted to get photos with Mike Catt, who's not been in the squad for a long time and Paul Grayson who has been a massive influence.

"I got around and made sure I got a photo with Will (Greenwood) who I sit next to in the changing room and with Daws (Matt Dawson), who sits on the other side.

"And I just thought how much energy I've taken from other people back home - people like Blacky (Newcastle fitness coach Steve Black), my mum and dad and brother."

Links to more England stories


England's Jonny Wilkinson
"I'm looking forward to a bit of peace and quiet"


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