NEWCASTLE Falcons are attempting to follow the blueprint created by Exeter Chiefs by becoming a regular top-four side in the Aviva Premiership, that’s according to Joel Hodgson

Boss Dean Richards has helped to create a winning mentality at the club and catapult them up the table this season, with the Falcons turning Kingston Park into a fortress.

They presently sit fourth in the table with 11 wins from 17 games and as they prepare to face Northampton Saints in the ‘Big One’ at St James’ Park tomorrow, fly-half Hodgson is convinced Newcastle are a team on the up.

Exeter won promotion to the Premiership in 2009 and have gone on to become one of the powerhouses of English rugby, beating Wasps in last year’s final to be crowned champions of England.

The Chiefs have built their success on consistency, homegrown talent and a smattering of big-name arrivals and imports – and Hodgson believes Exeter’s fairytale is something Newcastle are desperate to emulate.

Richards has a combined a collection of exciting homegrown stars with the likes of former internationals David Wilson and Toby Flood and the results on the pitch have been staggering this season.

“You hit the nail on the head with Exeter - this has been a long time coming, it’s a well thought out plan, a format that Dean’s put in place over the years to try and get to where we are now,” said Hodgson, who was speaking on behalf of Land Rover, the Official Vehicle Partner of Premiership Rugby.

“So, it’s really come as no surprise to me that it’s happening.

“It was first implemented when Dean arrived, then I went away. Even when I went away, Falcons were improving and being more competitive.

“I’ve come back, and they’re better than ever - we’re really mixing it. Ok, last weekend, we were mixing it on three levels and now we have a chance of a European semi-final after performing at the Big One on the weekend. We just got to keep our teeth into that top three and keep hold of them.

“We’re not a million miles away, just have to nail our processes every game, every weekend and if we do that, we’ll be in with a good shout.

“I don’t see why not we can’t follow in the footsteps of Exeter. If you see the type of signings we’ve made, the Floods, the Matavesi, the Mermoz, complimented with the Welch’s, Wilsons, Taits, Youngs etc, there’s a collective that’s starting to produce the goods and if we’re playing top flight European rugby and finishing top 4, top 6 every year we’re going to attract bigger names.

“So, if we keep doing what we’re doing, there’s no reason why we can’t attract the bigger names and mix in with what we’ve got already and continue to grow as a club.”

It has been a surprise to many that Newcastle are mixing it with the Premiership’s biggest hitters this season, pushing for a play-off position – but to Hodgson it has been an ongoing process that was always going to deliver results.

“I think it was always going to take that long to achieve,” added Hodgson, who alongside fellow Falcons were leading a coaching session on behalf of Land Rover at Northern RFC, the grassroots club that has won ten Land Rover Premiership Cups since its inauguration in 2008.

“One of the biggest things that any side struggles to put together is consistency.

“For a lot of years, we’ve put in some big performances, got some big results, taken some big scalps but I think now, we’re doing it

consistently and that’s the toughest thing to get; to make sure everyone’s mindset and everyone’s execution of skillset is on point week in week out.

“That’s one thing we’ve really managed to achieve. From my point of view, I went away (to Northampton) then I came back and I found the training, the intensity, the accuracy, just in two years, had gone through the roof.

“That was amazing to see and it’s great that we can challenge ourselves every day, not just on a weekend.

“Absolutely - the Premiership’s getting tighter as we go on, but if we perform as we know we can and we have beliefs in our abilities, there’s no reason we can’t keep producing results like that.

“We just have to keep sticking to the plan and executing it and if we do that, we feel that we have the action plan to mix it with the best.”

  • Land Rover is the Official Vehicle Partner of Premiership Rugby. Land Rover is celebrating its Testimonial Season of supporting grassroots rugby in the UK through the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup. Follow @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal