North East native Charlie Maddison is relishing the prospect of his Kingston Park debut when Newcastle Falcons host Hartpury University RFC on Friday night.
The 28-year-old came up through the Tynedale ranks but departed for Rotherham, Darlington Mowden Park and Jersey to pursue his professional rugby ambitions, earning a summer switch to his home region.
“It’s nice being back up home, and I’ve enjoyed being chucked in at the deep end,” said Maddison, who made his debut in last month’s 21-8 win at former club Jersey, and featured in the 52-14 triumph at Hartpury.
“I grew up in and around Hexham, played all my junior stuff at Tynedale and have since been away from the region for about ten years now playing my rugby elsewhere, so it’s great to be back up here.”
Despite not quite firing on all cylinders just yet the Falcons have won all four of their games this term, sitting on top of their Championship Cup group and defeating London Scottish 17-13 last Saturday in a rain-swept league opener.
“I’ve played the last five seasons in the Championship and it’s a really tough league,” said Maddison, whose Newcastle team are looking to bounce straight back into the top flight.
“As the perceived big dogs coming down from the Premiership you’ve got to be on it every single week, because teams want your scalp. All the way down the table you’re going to get sides gunning for you, and if we want to go straight back up into the top flight we can’t allow our focus to slip.
“I wouldn’t say last weekend was a wake-up call, because everyone here knows how difficult this season is going to be.
“We can’t blame the weather because it was the same for both sides, but what we can look at is how we are able to control the game when the conditions do deteriorate like that. Sometimes that’s just the way rugby goes, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact we actually won the game and the boys are all dead keen now just to get back out there as quickly as we can.”
Already well-acquainted with Friday’s opponents following their eight-try triumph in rural Gloucestershire, Maddison said: “We played Hartpury a fortnight ago so we both know a fair bit about each other, and for us it’s about kicking off our Championship season at home.
“We want to have a fast start in front of our home supporters, and to keep that tempo all the way through.
“Our head coach Dave Walder is always on to us about playing with pace, getting our hands on the ball and expressing ourselves. Allied to that we need to generate some go-forward, and when the weather is poor we need to play for territory.
“We probably could have controlled things a little bit better down at London Scottish in terms of the way that we played, but on a great pitch on Friday with hopefully some better conditions I’m sure it will be a different type of performance.”
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