Newcastle Falcons full-back Simon Hammersley insists he is back in full flight after overcoming a nine-month injury lay-off.
The 24-year-old was sidelined for the remainder of last season after damaging his anterior cruciate knee ligament at Wasps last November and, as the Falcons prepare for Saturday’s Aviva Premiership trip to Bath, the Yorkshireman is happy his body is where he needs it to be.
“I’m feeling good,” said the economics graduate, who is now studying for a Masters in finance.
“Obviously I was frustrated at being out injured so long but the care you get here is outstanding, and the knee feels strong. I’ve had a few 80-minutes under my belt now, touch wood it has come through fine and I’m just glad to be back.”
Hammersley and his Newcastle squad set off to the West Country in pursuit of a third consecutive Premiership away win, a feat they have not accomplished since 2013 following victories at Sale Sharks and Bristol.
“The Aviva Premiership is a truly relentless competition because you’re up against quality opposition every week, and we know Bath will be no different,” he said.
“They have strong individuals but training has been good this week, and hopefully we can turn them over down there. I really enjoy playing down at the Rec, I played in the Premiership 7s down there four or five years ago in what was one of my first senior outings for the club, and it’s a great venue.
“Last year we had a pretty awful performance down there so we’re looking to turn that around, and it should be a good game. We’re not dwelling on last season’s result there because we quickly moved on from it at the time, and our record against Bath during the back half of the season was actually very good.”
Fresh from last week’s adventure in Philadelphia where they faced Saracens at Talen Energy Stadium, the full-back believes the squad will have benefited from their time away together.
“It was a good trip and it was great to see somewhere different, but rugby-wise I think we were all a little frustrated with the game,” said Hammersley.
“We didn’t put in our most accurate performance although we matched Saracens’ physicality in the forwards, and as a group it was great to have that week as a collective. You get to know guys better when you’re essentially living together and the enthusiasm from the boys was fantastic.
“The stadium and the surface were outstanding and we felt lucky to have the chance to go and be part of it all, and in a way it has freshened things up for everyone.”