Incoming hooker Rob Hawkins is relishing the prospect of challenging for the coveted No.2 jersey next term.
The 31-year-old, who joins Newcastle Falcons from Leicester Tigers, faces stiff competition for a regular first team berth from the likes of Scotland international Scott Lawson, the experienced Matt Thompson and burgeoning talent George McGuigan.
“I’ve had a couple of weeks rest period and I’m now champing at the bit to get into pre-season training with my new teammates,” said Hawkins.
“There are some quality hookers at the club at the moment and each of us will be keen to stake a claim for a place in the first XV,” added the former England Under-21.
McGuigan is one of the three, with the Ireland Under-20 Falcons academy graduate scooping the Academy Player of the Season award last month.
Hawkins believes his experience of playing at the highest level for Bath Rugby and Leicester can benefit McGuigan and fellow home-grown hooker David Nelson.
“When I signed for the club I made no secret of the fact that I will be looking to help the younger players in the squad, and George has had a fantastic season for Newcastle, and is still very much developing.
“Scott Lawson is also an experienced campaigner who can pass on his expertise to the academy lads,” said Hawkins.
Nine new faces have been unveiled for the 2014-15 season including Alesana Tuilagi who Hawkins played with during his time at Welford Road.
Hawkins is enthused with the changing face of North East rugby, saying: “It will be great to team up with Alesana again, and his arrival coupled with a number of other high profile signings is a massive boost for the area.
“I can’t wait to meet my new teammates on my first day.”
And the Taunton-born front-rower is also looking forward to meeting pals Michael Stephenson and Spencer Davey who both played for the Kingston Park club.
“I’ve visited Newcastle on several occasions to see Spencer and Michael and they are great lads,” said Hawkins.
“Spencer is doing well up there with his Storm Fitness business and it will be nice to get the surf board out with him on the Northumberland coastline,” he added.
2014-15 season tickets are on sale by calling the Falcons Ticket Hotline on 0871 226 6060 or click here to purchase online.