For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Richards relishes Premiership return
12:00am Friday 6th September 2013 in Sport
NEWCASTLE boss Dean Richards insists the Falcons possess the necessary experience and ammunition to compete in the Aviva Premiership this season, writes SACHA CLAYTON.
The Falcons host Bath and former boss Gary Gold in tonight's Aviva Premiership opener at Kingston Park , with six summer signings set to make their full debuts as top-flight rugby makes a welcome return to the North East.
Experienced Scots Phil Godman and Mike Blair form a new half-back combination, while former Munster man Danny Barnes gets the nod at centre.
In the pack Franck Montanella starts at loosehead alongside fellow front-rowers Matt Thompson and Kieran Brookes with burgeoning talents Dom Barrow and Andy Saull coming into the back-row.
Richards successfully guided Newcastle back to English rugby's top-flight at the first time of asking last season and with Bath first up at KingstonPark - the Falcons are desperate to start the campaign off with a win.
"I'm excited and the players are too, but we won't get over excited and we'll do the job to the best of our ability," said Richards.
"The step up from the Championship is massive and there's no getting away from that - in the Championship you might get two or three games where you are really tested to the limit for the full 80 minutes, but in the Premiership you have to play at the same intensity week in, week out.
"When you look at the likes of Carlo del Fava, Mike Blair, Phil Godman, Andy Saull and Adam Powell to name but a few, we have lads who have been involved at the highest level.
"All of these players have been there, seen it and done it on the big stage.
"Looking at the side that we have now, we have a far more balanced team than we've had for a little while, and that balance of youth and experience will serve us well.
"It's consistency throughout the year which is going to be the biggest and most difficult thing because the Aviva Premiership isn't just about the odd game, and that's one of the most exciting things about it."
Meanwhile, Falcons captain Will Welch insists the players are determined to turn Kingston Park in to a fortress on their return to the Aviva Premiership - and is adamant survival is not their only target.
"I don't think we're really thinking about just keeping ourselves up," he said. " KingstonPark is one of the toughest places to come in the Premiership and we want that first win under our belts.
"We pride ourselves on our home form and how we play there and the more points we pick up there the better.
"When it comes to winter time and you have Friday night games and its cold and wet in comparison to down south it's a little bit harsher.
"We're used to it but when boys come up and it's chucking it down with rain and its 5 degrees it's a different story.
"Obviously to get that first win will be massive for confidence reasons and we're looking in good shape and I'm pretty confident we can do it."
Falcons: Tait, Cato, Barnes, Helleur, Catterick, Godman, Blair, Montanella, Thompson, Brookes, del Fava, MacLeod, Barrow, Saull, Hogg (c)
Replacements: Vickers, S Wilson, Strain, M Wilson, York, Fury, Hodgson, Powell
The Aviva Premiership Rugby Season kicks off this weekend. The first matches will be crucial; to be there to support your team buy your ticket from premiershiprugby.com/tickets
Comments are closed on this article.