Callum Chick believes there were a lot of positives to take from his debut Falcons start last weekend.
It’s been a big week for Callum Chick, the 19 year old making his first Falcons start against Enisei-STM on Saturday before being confirmed as part of the England U20s squad that will look to defend their Six Nations title this Spring.
Speaking between the two announcements Chick said: “It’s obviously very exciting.
“I was really pleased to be named in the starting team for Saturday’s game and to get the chance to make my debut, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being in Russia and having the opportunity to play.”
With the Falcons having lost their round five match away to the Russian side last Saturday turned into a disappointing day for the team, but Chick says the team are still positive about their quarter final qualification chances.
“It was very disappointing to lose the game and that puts pressure on us for this weekend against Brive, but hopefully we’ll get the win there. Obviously it all depends on the other teams too but we’re still hopeful that we’ll go through.”
And the young Back Row believes there was still much to take from the game against the former Russian champions.
“For me that was probably the most physical game I’ve been involved in throughout my career, but I felt like I fronted up well and was pleased with how I went, so hopefully the coaches were too.
“It was a huge step up and that was quite hard to do, but it’s something I have to get used to it if I play more games.”
There is certainly the opportunity for more games for Chick, the former Ponteland RFC player, confirmed today as part of England’s U20s Elite squad for the 2016 Six Nations tournament. But does the back row have any specific pre-match routines for those big games?
“I don’t really like to think about it too much before a game because it more pressure, so I just tend to have a think about my role and what I need to do in things like the line outs, but that’s about it really.
“Obviously when you’re starting a big game there are extra nerves but I try not to let them build too much or overthink anything. You have to be confident in what you have to do and try not to think about anything else.”
One thing that was particularly useful for Chick’s first senior Falcons start was the presence of Mark Laycock and Jimmy Ponton, both of whom have stepped in from their usual roles within the club’s Academy to take over responsibility for first team coaching within the Falcons’ European campaign.
“Jimmy and Marko have been my coaches for a long time now so it’s nice to have them helping us through still. Getting my first start with them as head coaches was quite nice on the day and it definitely made the step up to first team feel a bit easier.”
Signing his first full-time contract with the Falcons last summer after six seasons with the club’s junior academy, Chick has had a great deal of fringe involvement with the club already this season.
Having captained the Falcons team to group victory in the 2015 Singha Premiership Rugby Sevens tournament, the back row was named on the bench for European away trip to Connacht and has stepped in on a number of other occasions as travelling reserve before making his debut last weekend.
“I’ve been realised surprised to be honest because I didn’t expect to get as much first team experience as I have and I’m really pleased to have had that opportunity.
“Obviously as a young lad I’ve still got a lot to learn and a lot of players ahead of me, but to get the opportunity – even just to get on the bench earlier in the season – has been really good for my development, and hopefully that’ll help me for the future too.”
As Chick looks to stake his claim amongst the next generation of both Falcons and England forwards, the help of a more experienced captain was a definite bonus in his first club start.
“Playing alongside Richie, who’s one of the older heads in the team definitely helped me along.
“Already from last weekend I’ve learned a lot about the speed of the game, and the physicality more than anything. I’m used to playing men’s rugby with Blaydon but professional rugby is another step up again. Also the general streetwise ability of players is something to understand too so it’s really good to get the extra experience.”
Chick is hoping to feature again in the Falcons’ final pool game of the European Rugby Challenge Cup at home to Brive this Saturday (ko 3pm), as well as in the England U20s Six Nations match against Ireland being played at Kingston Park Stadium on Friday 26th February.
Tickets for both matches are available now online, in person from the Kingston Park Stadium Box Office or by calling the Falcons’ 24 hour Ticket Hotline on 0871 226 6060.