It’s an impressive season from the Falcons so far; you must be delighted?
Yes, I’m really pleased. We made a very good start to the season but then had a dip in form in late-October and November. Since our big win away at Northampton in November, we’ve had a seven-game winning streak, including a very good win against top-of-the-table Exeter. We’re now doing well in all three competitions and are on track for a home quarter final in the European competition.
What’s made the difference?
We’ve made good progress year-on-year and I think that the close results that went against us last year have gone our way this season. As a team, we’ve really worked together this season with not too many changes, so we have a better understanding of each other and what we’re about. We have real strength in depth now, too, with two or three players competing for every position.
You’re personally in the top three in the league for turnovers. You must be pleased with that?
Definitely. Unfortunately, everything is on hold as I’m going through a concussion protocol after suffering a second concussion in a short period of time. I worked out, this is my seventh concussion!
Have you noticed a change in the physicality of the sport in your time as a professional?
Everyone is getting bigger, faster and stronger. Wingers used to be quick and much leaner but now – just like everyone else – they’re monsters!
Are you disappointed or philosophical about the lack of international recognition to date?
There’s not much I can do about it other than keep trying to concentrate on playing well for the Falcons. There’s a big pool of strength of competition in the back row so I just have to keep going. Ultimately, it comes down to someone’s opinion.
Do you think the era whereby the North East’s best players had to leave the region to get recognition is over?
I certainly hope so, and it helps with the club being more successful on the pitch now, too. If we can keep this going it’ll help us keep hold of our younger players. But we’re a professional sport and so there’s always going to be movement and cases where people move on.
Is winning a trophy now a realistic target for the Falcons?
Definitely. We’re unbeaten in both Europe and the LV Cup* so it’d be good to win one this year. It’s been a long time since the club won a trophy.
Does it make a difference to the players now the crowds are coming back into Kingston Park?
It makes a massive difference when we have a big crowd in. We’ve had crowds of over 7000 this season and the difference really helps us on the pitch. We’re playing a good brand of rugby, which helps bring the crowds in, too. Dave Walder has had a big influence on that.
Are you looking forward to playing against Northampton at St James’ Park on March 24?
I can’t wait to play at the biggest sporting stadium in the North East. I went to the Swansea game recently and our Argentinian boys are friendly with some of their Spanish contingent. Our whole team is looking forward to it and hopefully we’ll get a big crowd for it!
*at time of interview