England star Jonny Wilkinson has admitted he will always be "absolutely obsessive" about his rugby.
But the Newcastle fly-half accepts he also needs to put an emphasis on relaxation when he is away from the game.
Wilkinson, who faced the media at Newcastle’s pre-season press day, has declared himself fit and raring to go for Falcons’ Premiership campaign, which starts against Sale Sharks on September 2.
And he is looking forward to an injury-free run following a run of repeated fitness setbacks since England’s 2003 World Cup triumph which has restricted him to just three subsequent Test match appearances – all with the British & Irish Lions.
"I’ve had basically two years of watching everyone else play while I’ve been injured, and when you are in that situation, you can’t live with the same sort of intensity you have when you’re training every day and playing every weekend," he said.
"It just ends up being very counter-productive, and maybe looking back, I wished I had taken people’s advice and had more time off while I was injured.
"But I didn’t know it would go on for so long, and hindsight makes it all seem very easy.
"I wished I had used my time when I was injured to understand there is a bit more to life outside of rugby, which is very difficult for me."
Wilkinson, England’s record international points-scorer, suffered so-called "stinger" injuries to his neck and shoulder area – the latest ruling him out of the Lions’ third Test appointment with New Zealand this summer – and two knee injuries.
He added: "It is amazing how your life changes when you are out of the habit of coming off the field one weekend and looking forward to your game next weekend, being able to work on the things you’re not happy with in your game and being able to celebrate what you are doing well.
"To have all that stripped away from you isn’t easy for one year, but to come back, play a few games then have it taken away from you for a second time is frustrating.
"Now, I think I am grown up enough as a person and as a player to just say I am looking forward to what is ahead of me.
"I still have enormous goals and ambitions in rugby, which won’t change, but maybe in my spare time I will be a bit less afraid to wander into other areas and just see what is out there.
"I can never change the person I am, and I will always be absolutely obsessive about my rugby, but maybe I will try and leave it on the field so that I can relax a bit when I am away from it."
And as for his prolonged injury woes, Wilkinson also delivered a positive message.
"There is no reason to say that just because I had a knee injury last year that I now have a dodgy knee, or that because I got a bang on the shoulder in the summer, I’m injury-prone," he said.
"I have recovered, and I am now going out there as if I was 18 again, only with eight or nine years’ more experience."