Newcastle Falcons centre Chris Harris says his side have a tunnel vision focus on their own preparation for Saturday’s visit to Leicester Tigers, despite this week’s upheaval for their Gallagher Premiership opponents.
The Welford Road club parted ways with head coach Matt O’Connor just one game into the new season following their 40-6 thumping at Exeter Chiefs, Harris insisting it has not been on the Newcastle radar during their build-up to Saturday’s 3pm kick-off.
“People sometimes say in football the worst time to play a team is when they’ve sacked their manager, but I suppose it can go both ways,” said the Scotland centre, who featured in summer tour wins over Argentina and Canada.
“The way I’m dealing with it is not to even let it into my thoughts, because there’s no point. I’m just looking at my own performance and how that fits into the team overall, and if I start thinking about opposition coaches it’s just an unnecessary distraction. The reality is that Leicester are still a very good side no matter who’s coaching them, but we’re just focusing on Newcastle.
“They might play a bit more rugby under Geordan Murphy or they might look to feed off the emotional response of the crowd with a more forward-based game. You just don’t know, and in that sense it’s pointless spending time worrying about what Leicester are going to do.
“What we do know is that they’re a good side. Maybe there’s a bit more player input down there in terms of what goes on at the club – I don’t know – but for me I’m just concentrating on the things I can influence.”
Looking to bounce back from last weekend’s 32-21 home loss to reigning champions Saracens, Harris said: “We were pretty disappointed because we ran them close, and could have won it.
“We were quite inconsistent in our performance but there was a lot of good stuff, and we’ve taken the positive bits from it. The errors that we produced, we’ve worked hard during the week at putting them right, and we feel like we’re in a good place.”
Asked about the decision not to award what to many seemed like an obvious knock-on in the build-up to Saracens’ last try, a diplomatic Harris said: “Referees have a tough job – they get a lot of things right and maybe they miss some others on occasion.
“The truth of it is that, for all they looked to have knocked on, it was still a missed tackle of ours which then allowed them to get into a scoring position, and that’s the thing we can influence. You can look at it afterwards and go ‘yeah, it should have been a knock-on’ but the reality is that it wasn’t given, and you just have to get on with it.”
Determined not to dwell on last weekend as Newcastle look to repeat the victory they achieved at Welford Road in April, he said: “Their crowd will definitely be behind them, but that’s no different to any other Leicester home game.
“It’s a tough place to go, the atmosphere is immense but we relish that, and we’ve shown we can win there. I love playing at places like that, so let’s just go down there, get four or five points and take them back up the road with us.”