Callum Chick is urging supporters to take advantage of Sunday’s dual-code double header at Kingston Park Stadium, with Newcastle meeting Doncaster in both rugby union and rugby league.
Chick’s Newcastle Falcons play their home opener at 3pm when they tackle Doncaster Knights in the Championship Cup, the game preceded at 12 noon by Newcastle Thunder’s Betfred League 1 promotion play-off semi-final against Doncaster RLFC.
Falcons match ticket and season ticket holders can gain entry to both games at no extra charge, with the post-match festivities including Newcastle United’s 4.30pm kick-off against Leicester City on the TVs in the stadium bars.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for people to come down and check out a bit of both codes,” said Chick, who played junior rugby league for Cramlington Rockets before concentrating on his rugby union career.
“For Falcons fans they can come down early and see the Thunder playing in a really important semi-final, and for Thunder supporters hopefully they’ll hang around after their own game and cheer on the Falcons in our first home match of the season.
“The games are obviously very different but I’ve played both, and there’s something in there for everyone.
“The fact that both teams are playing against Doncaster on the same day is a bit of a freak of the fixture list, but it actually works out well in terms of giving the fans a great double bill.”
Chick’s Falcons are one win from one after opening their campaign with a 21-8 away victory over Jersey Reds last Saturday, the forward admitting: “It was tighter than we wanted it to be, but it’s started the season on a positive note.
“Jersey are a good team, you have to give them due credit and we were a bit rusty with it being our first game up against a side who have already had three run-outs.
“We’ve put things in place over the summer, it perhaps didn’t click straightaway with being our first game but there were still loads of positives. Hopefully Sunday can see us take another step in the right direction to really get into top gear.”
Well aware that it won’t be plain sailing for the Falcons this season despite their billing as promotion favourites, the back-rower added: “Things aren’t going to always work out perfectly during these early-season games but we’re working on different combinations, getting game time for players and fine-tuning things.
“We knew that no team is going to be a pushover this season, and Saturday in Jersey just went to illustrate that.
“We have to set a Premiership standard because we feel that’s where we belong in the longer term, and we have to maintain it week after week to secure that promotion.
“The good thing is the boys seem really focused, we’ll be the team that everyone wants to beat and we have to meet that challenge. We’ve got to look after the things that are within our own influence, do them as best we can, and if we do that then we’ll give ourselves a great chance.”
Asked what the Knights will offer on Sunday, the former England Under-20s captain said: “Doncaster are like a lot of teams in this league in that they have a big physical pack, and we’ll have to bar up against them.
“They’ve also got some nifty backs who’ll try to play out wide against us, but the focus for us is more on ourselves. Of course we’ve watched the footage of them and we’ll give them absolute full respect, but if we play our own game as well as we can then hopefully it will be another win for us.”