Richards tipped to turn Falcons’ fortunes around

The Northern Echo: GOOD COACH: Dean Richards, who takes over in the summer GOOD COACH: Dean Richards, who takes over in the summer

NEWCASTLE Falcons have made the signing of the summer to-date after tempting legendary England number eight Dean Richards to coach at Kingston Park next season, says Harlequins fly-half Nick Evans.

Evans and Richards were two of the central characters in the infamous Bloodgate scandal that led to the former Harlequins boss - then in charge at the Stoop - being banned from rugby for three seasons in 2009.

The withdrawal of Tom Williams with a bogus blood injury allowed Evans to return to the field of play to have one last pot-shot at goal against Leinster in what turned out to be an eventual Heineken Cup loss for Quins.

Richards' suspension ends in mid-August, when he will take over from current Newcastle boss Gary Gold at the Falcons' helm.

Richards has enjoyed almost perennial success at Leicester, winning two Heineken Cups, while he also led Harlequins back from the Championship and established them as a Premiership force once more.

But it's Richards' no-nonsense style and never-say-die attitude that will make his former boss a success in the North East says Evans.

"What has happened previously is done," said Evans, who currently plays at Aviva Premiership title-chasers Harlequins.

"When I first came over he was Dean Richards, this big English legend and he's got this presence.

"I would throw intimidating in there as well because he's a huge English name and legend from history and a big guy.

"He doesn't say a lot so when he does speak everyone listens - that's just how it is.

"He is one of those kinds of guys like someone else who coached me in New Zealand - Buck Shelford.

"He had that as well being a big guy, an All Black legend and when he spoke everyone sat down and listened.

"He got the best out of the players and Dean is the same. There are different ways of doing things and he has got his own way - he is not much of a hands-on kind of guy but when things need to be said and ropes need to be tightened he will do it."

A season in the Championship will not faze Richards; he has previously worked in English rugby's second-flight, taking Harlequins back to the big-time at the first time of asking in 2005, losing just one game in the process.

Question marks remain over whether Richards' imposed exile will affect his ability to coach in the English top-flight again - he has been away for three seasons - but Evans has no doubts.

"I have no doubt he will have an impact at Newcastle, because that's the type of guy he is," added Evans.

"People have questioned how current he will be, I guess it remains to be seen how much the game has moved on while he has been away but I know he has the tools to cope and inspire Newcastle.

"I am sure he has kept in touch on how the game is and the way teams are playing.

"Being the kind of dominating figure he is, he will get the best out of those players whether they are in the Premiership or the Championship.

"I am sure in a year or two Newcastle will be a team challenging for silverware."

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