Wilkinson faces fresh fitness test


Jonny Wilkinson must pass a fitness test tomorrow morning before Newcastle will confirm he is ready for a return to action.

Wilkinson, who underwent surgery on his groin last month, has been included in an expanded list of nine replacements for their Premiership clash with Worcester.

But his training has been limited by Newcastle's heavy schedule and the bad weather in the northeast of England, and director of rugby Rob Andrew is not inclined to take any risks.

"We haven't made a decision on Jonny yet," Andrew said. "We weren't able to train this morning due to the snow, and we will have a run this afternoon at Newcastle United's indoor complex, but we will give him a fitness test late on Sunday and see if he is ready to be on the bench.

"He will only be included if both he and ourselves are absolutely 100 per cent happy, and clearly we aren't going to force the issue if he's not ready."

Wilkinson, who has not played since November 11th, admitted the groin injury had stemmed from his obsessive approach to practice and that he will have to tone down his routine.

"The reason this has happened is the shearing effect of the joints from the repetitive nature of the kicking," Wilkinson said earlier this month. "I've put a lot of strain on myself, without a doubt.

"I believe that the ultimate relationship for success is the more you put in, the more you get out. I'm struggling to pull the positives out of this. But if I'm looking for a plus, this change of approach was maybe something I needed.

"I've had three operations and seven injuries: the neck, the arm, two knees, another neck on the Lions tour, the appendix and now this. I've got to find different ways of working as hard without putting so much stress on my body.

"The two-hour kicking sessions will always be me. But, for years, I've been literally compounding two-hour session upon two-hour session. I know now I cannot afford to think like that every single day."

Andrew has made three changes to his side as Newcastle seek a sixth consecutive victory.

Dave Walder starts at outhalf after replacing Toby Flood in the second half of Tuesday's 13-10 victory at Leeds, while Geoff Parling comes into the secondrow and Ben Woods replaces Cory Harris at openside.