5:21pm Wednesday 5th February 2014
By Ross McLean
REFUSING to allow his milestone to slip under the radar, former Kendal RUFC back row forward Mark Wilson brought up his Newcastle Falcons century in headlining style.
The 24-year-old enjoyed a night to remember while making his 100th appearance for the Kingston Park club in the 29-0 LV=Cup success against Newport Gwent Dragons.
Featuring in his favoured number eight spot for the first time in 18 months, Wilson – who also plays blindside flanker – stole the show with two tries and the man of the match accolade.
But with membership of the 100 club secured, the ex-Kirkbie Kendal School student is not content to simply toast this achievement, with further champagne moments the clear aim.
“I’m delighted with the 100th appearance as when I first started I made that one of my goals and I see achievements within the club as a big thing for me,” he said.
“I’ve been coming to Newcastle Falcons a long time, since I was 14, and it’s nice in my fourth year as a professional to get to 100.
“Hopefully I will go on and get another 100 if things go well and go to plan.
“I couldn’t have written a better script to be honest. The best thing was the team and the pack in front of me were outstanding on the night so it made my job quite easy.
“It was my first game back at number eight for some time so it was good in that respect as ultimately that is my favourite position.
“Hopefully in the coming weeks I can play at number eight in the Aviva Premiership and reach that standard again.”
Wilson made 30 appearances for Newcastle last season en route to collecting the Ken Lockerbie Trophy after signing a professional contract with the north east side back in 2010.
While also spending time on loan at Blaydon, his formative years were spent at Mint Bridge where he donned the Black and Amber shirt of Kendal RUFC.
And Wilson casts little doubt on his spell in Cumbria being anything other than vital in terms of his rugby education and sporting development.
“Kendal is a great club and it’s good to go back when I can,” he added.
“I have been to other clubs and there aren’t many still knocking around which have that real rugby club feeling where everybody knows each other.
“You could go for a beer with any of the lads while at the same time competing hard and hopefully they can get back up the leagues where they belong.
“At the time there was no junior set-up at Kendal so when I came back from the Penrith junior set-up I slotted straight into the senior stuff.
“And the year and a bit I played for the senior side really brought me on. I was playing with men and getting used to senior rugby and that held me in good stead for the future.
“I also owe a lot to my old PE teacher Dean Barker, he has been with me the whole time really and guided me when I’ve needed it.
“I speak to him on a regular basis and he keeps me on track. His input was massive earlier in my career and he set my ambitions high.”
And while retaining great fondness for the club itself, Wilson also enjoyed on-field success with Kendal with one season in particular remaining in sharp focus.
“The biggest standout moment was when we won every game back when it was North One, just below what was the old National Three,” he said.
“We won every game, I think it was 22 out of 22, and had the likes of Dan Stevens playing at ten and a good core with Billy Coxon, Duncan Green and Richard Harryman in the front row.
“There was also James Gough in the backs as well as Ian Voortman which made for a good team. That time was definitely a highlight.”
So with his career going from strength to strength, has Wilson – who captained England Schools during the 2009/10 season – allowed himself to consider thoughts of international recognition?
“Everyone’s dreams and ambitions are different but the main thing for now is keep playing regularly for the first-team at Newcastle and keep playing Premiership rugby,” he added.
“Obviously I’m not going to sit here and say I want to play for England. I aim to get my head down, control the controllables and keep performing as I am.
“And then hopefully that will put me in good stead in terms of selection for any representative honours. But it’s a case of working hard and enjoying it.
“And at the end of the day that’s when I’m playing my best rugby when I’m enjoying things and hopefully staying at eight will be a good thing as well.”
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