Fletcher confident in Wilkinson signature

Newcastle insist they are confident that Jonny Wilkinson will put pen to paper on a new deal with the club early in the new year. [more]

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Newcastle insist they are confident that Jonny Wilkinson will put pen to paper on a new deal with the club early in the new year.

The England star’s contract at Kingston Park expires at the end of the season with suitors already queueing up to secure his services, while his mentor Steve Black has already severed his links with the Falcons.

But head coach John Fletcher expects an extended deal to be signed following talks with Wilkinson’s advisers in January.

And continued success on the field – where Newcastle ended a 13-month run without an away win by beating Saracens 22-19 – will be an added incentive for the 28-year-old fly-half to continue his stay in the north-east.

"We’re talking with Jonny Wilkinson and those talks will continue in the new year," said Fletcher.

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"We’re due to meet with his management in early January and we’ve no reason to believe he won’t sign.

"Ultimately he’s got to do what’s best for him, but he’s on record as saying he loves the region, the way we play and where we’re going.

"As a side we’ve been competitive for a period of time. We’ve added to the squad in terms of quality and we’re bringing through a number of good younger players."

Tries from a trio of England stars in Mathew Tait, Toby Flood and Jamie Noon enabled Newcastle to hold off high-flying Saracens with Wilkinson adding two penalties and two conversions.

They needed the winning score from Noon three minutes from time to end a run of 10 Premiership defeats away from home stretching back to their 26-18 success at Sale on November 17, 2006.

The result hauled them up to seventh place in the table and rekindled their chances of forcing their way back into the Heineken Cup for only the third time in their history.

Saracens scored tries through Hugh Vyvyan and Neil De Kock with Gordon Ross kicking two penalties and Glen Jackson one.

Director of rugby Alan Gaffney admitted Sarries had missed a huge opportunity to drive up interest in the club by disappointing a bumper 17,228 crowd at Vicarage Road that was their biggest in a decade.

"I have to apologise to all the supporters," said Gaffney.

"It was a great opportunity for us to go out and show what we’ve been doing this season but I’m not sure how many of them will come back after watching that drivel.

"The better side won the game. In the first half we had no structure, no pace, and we were lucky to be only 15-6 down at half-time.

"We could have edged it at the end but probably didn’t deserve to.

"A lot of people have got to take responsibility for the performance, put their hands up and put it right."

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