Man behind Wilkinson legend helping City

PUBLISHED: 08:00 28 February 2008 | UPDATED: 15:25 10 September 2010

Steve Black, seated left, at Carrow Road.

Steve Black, seated left, at Carrow Road.

Chris Lakey

The mystery man who was part of Glenn Roeder's back-up team in the Carrow Road dug-out at the weekend has been revealed as Steve Black - the man who helped mentor Jonny Wilkinson into an England World Cup rugby legend.

The mystery man who was part of Glenn Roeder's back-up team in the Carrow Road dug-out at the weekend has been revealed as Steve Black - the man who helped mentor Jonny Wilkinson into an England World Cup rugby legend.

Black was involved in the Norwich players' warm-up before the weekend win over Barnsley, and again in the warm-down exercises post-match.

It is understood that the long-time confidante of Canaries assistant manager Lee Clark has not taken on a permanent role at Carrow Road and was simply assisting the management team.

Black has already attended City training sessions, along with Jon Curry, the former North Walsham rugby club coach. Clark, while still a teenager with Newcastle, and Curry worked with Black in their native north-east, which is where Roeder also first met Black.

“The three of us have an association that goes back something like 20 years,” said Curry. “We used to train on the beaches when Lee was 14 or 15. Lee has trained with Blackie for most of his career. When Lee came down and took the job of assistant manager to Glenn Steve offered his services.

“It is just an association that will carry on as long as both sides want it to. Steve has a lot of work in Newcastle and is not looking for a full-time position, he's just helping out.”

Black is best known for his role is honing the genius of rugby star Wilkinson, although his career has advanced from being a fitness specialist to one which combines conditioning and management.

Earlier this month, after passing the 1,000-point mark for England, Wilkinson paid tribute to the people who had helped him “through the tough times”.

“I have had a lot of injuries, and it has been the support I've received from other players and guys like Steve Black and John Fletcher at Newcastle,” he said.

Such is the extent of their relationship that when Black left the Falcons in December, Wilkinson's own future at the club was thrown into doubt.

Wilkinson once said: “I trust him with everything. He's the driving force behind my ambitions. Much of my confidence and self-belief comes from my respect and belief in him.”

Having started as a doorman in Newcastle at the age of 16, Black ran local football sides in the area and was recruited by Newcastle United during Kevin Keegan's first spell on Tyneside in the early 90s.

Black then joined the rugby revolution at Newcastle Falcons, where league and cup success attracted current All Blacks coach Graham Henry, who offered him a job with the Wales team. That led to work with the British and Irish Lions before a return to football with Fulham then a second spell at Newcastle Falcons, combining his work in two sports by working with Sunderland.

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