Now a half-centurion in Newcastle Falcons colours, Adam Brocklebank believes the club’s homegrown core can take them to the next level as they prepare to host Bristol Bears on Saturday.
The Durham University graduate turned 26 last month and is part of a healthy contingent of academy graduates making waves in the senior game, the loose-head saying: “It’s interesting that there’s a group of us who are regarded as the academy lads coming through, but we’re all starting to hit that 50-game mark now.
“I had my 50th on the last day of last season, Brett Connon had his at Bath this season, Adam Radwan had his last weekend and then Jamie Blamire is up for his on Saturday if he’s involved. Tom Penny had his 50th last season, Ben Stevenson is getting close to his and it’s great that all these guys who came through together are now 50-game players at senior level.
“I think it’s good to acknowledge those milestones, and playing 50 games for Newcastle Falcons means a lot to me. We’ve got a young, powerful group capable of taking this club to the next level, and I hope to get another 150!”
Part of a Falcons side which roared back to victory in their last home match against Wasps despite being a man down for the last 25 minutes, Brocklebank highlighted the contribution of the Kingston Park faithful for cheering the team home.
“The crowd have 100% been like an extra player for us this season,” said the prop.
“In that Wasps game a fortnight ago they were absolutely amazing, and it really filters down to the players.
“I think a lot of us probably hadn’t realised how influential the crowds were until we had to play behind closed doors. There was an element of getting used to the empty grounds last season, which was a bit surreal at first, but to then have crowds back after virtually a full season has just been amazing.
“I think it’s really made a lot of the players sit back and fully appreciate what a difference our home crowd makes to the team, and fair play to the fans because they’re fully getting involved and making it a really good atmosphere on a match-day.
“It means everything to me to have that back again, and when you’re doing a job that you love and people are showing you they’re right behind you, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
Having won half of their league games after an unbeaten pre-season campaign, Brocklebank said: “It’s great that we’ve beaten Bath and Wasps, but within the camp we haven’t been entirely happy with either game.
“We should have had a bonus point down at Bath and we made hard work of it at home to Wasps, but we still got the wins in both. We’ve lost to two good teams in Saracens and Harlequins, and the feeling within the camp is that there’s a lot more to give. We’re only just getting started.”
Beaten 37-23 at Saracens last weekend having led 17-3 at one stage, he added: “We’re gutted with the result because we were right in the game, but were our own worst enemy.
“Our discipline let us down and allowed Sarries to get back into the game, but for that first half-hour or so we were rightfully ahead against one of the best teams around. If we’d have kept cooler heads then the game would have been ours, and that’s a key lesson we’ve taken from it.”
Asked about the strengths of the Falcons’ team this season, he added: “I’m going to be a bit biased here and say our pack.
“The forwards have gone really well in the tight stuff for the most part, notwithstanding parts of last weekend’s game at Saracens. We’ve shown a lot of power during the scrummaging and mauling parts of the game, and our backs have been awesome too with electricity like Radders [Adam Radwan] out on the wing.
“In the centres guys like Bhuna [Ben Stevenson] have gone well, but in my totally neutral opinion it’s all down to the forwards!”
This weekend finding themselves up against a Bristol side who led 21-0 at Harlequins last time out, only to lose 52-24, Brocklebank said: “That game was just crazy.
“It looked done and dusted after the first 20 minutes because Bristol ran away with it, but then out of nowhere Marcus Smith came on and it seemed to change the whole story.
“It was certainly one for the fans to enjoy, but as a prop I’m not sure I would’ve wanted to play in it.
“I’d just be praying that my lungs got me to the 60-minute mark, and that the coach would take me off!”
Tickets for Saturday’s game are available by clicking here.