Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

It's Been a Very Ver S Y S Pecial Partnership - the Bond Will Never Be Broken; and Legendary Player Crowns a Celebrated Relationship

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

It's Been a Very Ver S Y S Pecial Partnership - the Bond Will Never Be Broken; and Legendary Player Crowns a Celebrated Relationship

Article excerpt

was coaching the whole squad," recalled Steve, "but despite the array of talent Jonny still stood out because of his intensity, his brightness, talent, and willingness to work and learn.

"My coaching style was such that I always worked closely with individuals and so it developed with Jonny. I worked on body, mind, heart, and spirit and that seemed to appeal to him.

"I had mentored other young sportsmen like Lee Clark and Steve Watson at Newcastle United and my relationship with Jonny started out in the same way."

Ironically, perhaps appropriately, Black was presented with the Sport Newcastle Coach of the Year award in the same Civic Centre venue many moons ago when Wilkinson was named as one of their Rising Stars.

While Wilkinson went on to lift the championship and the Tetley's Bitter Cup twice at Twickenham with the Falcons, he seemed haunted by injuries after the World Cup triumph of 2003, whereas at Toulon a battered body appeared to hold up well. How come? "Jonny never suered muscular injuries," explained Blackie.

"His trouble was that as the bravest of players he endured a lot of car crashes. When you are around 13st and have a 20st Tongan hitting you side-on you suer. Your body isn't made to absorb that sort of punishment.

"'e dierence when he went to Toulon is that they had the best pack in the world and it gave Jonny a platform to sit behind it and do his most telling work. He wasn't less brave, he just didn't have to go round putting out "res all the time.

"Jonny was, in my opinion, the greatest tackling No 10 who ever lived, but that wasn't needed at Toulon.

"He was a god out there. He was revered. 'e opposition players used to come up to him before games and ask for his autograph! Imagine that.

He shared a with two "Jonny was made captain because of his huge inuence. A captain in rugby is much more inuential than in football and he was the best.

Winners and delivered in perfect was so proud "He spoke uent French in the dressingroom and in Press interviews. 'e fans loved that because it was like he was one of them.

"I remember him being asked to speak about quantum physics at a seminar in Paris after we had written a book speaking of it. …

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