Newcastle Falcons captain Will Welch says the squad’s week-long training camp at Bishop Burton College is laying the groundwork for a successful Aviva Premiership campaign.
The flanker, who this week signed a four-year contract extension, has been at the Yorkshire-based college with his squad-mates as the Falcons step up their pre-season preparations.
Welch said: “Camps are good for being around everyone for the full week, bonding outside of our training sessions and getting to each other a bit more. That is especially true for the new lads, but just as important is the fact it has been a big rugby week.
“We have got down to the real basics of what we want to do this season and just made sure everyone is on the same page with that.”
While some players may recoil at the thought of a three-month slog ahead of the first league game, the skipper is one man who enjoys a summer at the coal face.
“I quite like pre-season,” he said. “Some boys detest it but the way I look at it is that this is the only time of year where you can really get better physically. You haven’t got the pressure of games looming every weekend, it is a constant quest for improvement and I enjoy that feeling of getting to the end of a hard week.
“Fundamentally pre-seasons are generally fairly similar in that they focus initially on the conditioning element. It is a little bit different every year, but this time we have had a pretty good balance between getting our weights and conditioning done, and getting into the rugby. We had our hands on a ball from pretty much day one and hopefully we will reap the rewards of that.”
The introduction of wrestling onto the players’ diaries has not directly impacted Welch too much, the Newcastle native joking: “Luckily I didn’t do too much of the wrestling because of a little niggle I’ve been managing. I timed it right in that sense, but all joking aside I think the boys have enjoyed getting into a bit of grappling and working on their technique.
“Contact situations are such a big part of the game, and it is basically preparing your body for when we go out and do full contact work. It is pretty full-on, but controlled at the same time.”
Following Saturday’s Singha 7s the Falcons face a three-match pre-season schedule, tackling Nottingham in Darlington on August 6, hosting Doncaster Knights on August 13 and travelling to Edinburgh on August 26.
Welch said: “We have three competitive first-team games during pre-season with a pretty good blend in opposition, as well as an A-Team game against Gala.
“Nottingham are a good side, Doncaster were one of the best teams in last season’s Championship and Edinburgh have plenty of quality. It is a great chance for the coaches to have a look at the players and to get some momentum going into the league. You never really know where you are until you get into some games, and it will be really useful for us.”
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