TONIGHT’S game against Newport Gwent Dragons will bring up the milestone 100 appearances for Mark Wilson, but the Newcastle Falcons flanker insists his main priority is the team building up a head of steam.
A product of the club’s academy, the back-rower has become a mainstay of the team in recent seasons with nine appearances in the Aviva Premiership already this season.
The 24-year-old was rested last week as the Falcons lost out 41-8 to Saracens in the LV=Cup with Dean Richards opting to give their younger stars a chance to cut their teeth.
But recalled to the starting line up for the visit of the Dragons to Kingston Park tonight, Wilson will join the likes of skipper Will Welch in reaching a century of games in a Falcons shirt.
Cumbrian-born Wilson already has his eyes on a whole host more, but in the short term his focus is on his side, already out of the LV=Cup, building up some momentum ahead of a return to Aviva Premiership duties.
Only Worcester Warriors sit below them in the league, albeit it 11 points behind, but with fixtures against Bath, Harlequins, Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers to come, a confidence-boosting victory over the Dragons would be well received by the soon to be centurion maker.
“From a personal point of view I am delighted to reach the 100 milestone. It was a goal that I set myself when I first came into the team and I’m delighted that it has come up,” said Wilson.
“I have seen a lot of experienced players coming and going and I want to keep on improving. It would be fantastic if I could make it to say 200 but the short term aim is to keep performing regularly week in week out.
“And from a team point of view, the game against Dragons is important for us to set a marker down for next week and returning to the Premiership.
“It’s a chance to really get the fans on side and show that we really mean business for the rest of the season.
“We have some tough fixtures coming up, we don’t want to say this is a warm up game but it is a real chance to build some momentum and stake a claim for the shirt next week.”
Dean Richards has opted for a host of changes to the team for tonight’s game, with Oliver Tomaszczyk, partnering Rob Vickers and Matt Thompson in the front-row, the sole survivor from last week’s trip to Saracens.
Dom Barrow returns to the second-row alongside Fraser McKenzie following two months on the sidelines while Gonzalo Tiesi makes his Falcons debut.
- Be part of the rugby family at the LV=Cup Final at Sandy Park, Exeter on March 16th. Tickets available: ticketmaster.co.uk