The fifth nominee for Newcastle Falcons’ Heineken Fans Star of the Season is Mark Wilson. Click to find out his thoughts on the season so far.
Amongst the shortlist for Newcastle Falcons’ Heineken Fans Star of the Season Award, one name many fans will have taken as a given is Mark Wilson.
Since making his Falcons’ debut in 2009/10, the Back Row has been something of an ever-present on the club’s end of season awards listings, winning Academy Player of the Season, Players’ Player of the Season and two Ken Lockerbie Trophies for most consistently high performances over the years.
But 25-year-old Wilson is typically modest about news of his shortlisting for this latest accolade.
“I’m delighted. It’s great to be alongside the guys who have also been nominated, they’ve had great seasons, so to be in that list is very pleasing.
“I think every time I take to the field I want to play at my best and with the competition that we have and in the back row especially it keeps me on my toes. That’s the great thing this year, we’ve got a unit of back rowers that all have to be on the top of our game to start because otherwise, there is someone who’s chomping at the bit to start.”
In a back row set up that includes a host of the club’s consistent performers, Wilson’s name has been amongst the most regular on the Falcons’ team sheet, but the Cumbrian is quick to praise his teammates for their own contribution to the team.
“The good thing about our back row is that we’ve all got different strengths and bring a combination of skills and abilities; we’ve got ball players, dominant tacklers who give a real bite in defence and people with an outstanding work rate, and we all complement each other every time we play.”
And for Wilson, who has performed across the back row throughout the season, as well as making a couple of appearances stints elsewhere in the scrum when injury has called for it, what difference does individual position make to his game?
“I think you have to adapt to a certain extent but I think the way we set ourselves defensively, it’s sometimes just a number on your back. It’s more about adapting to the different people that you play with and bringing something different to what they do to complement that.”
Coming to the end of his sixth term with the Falcons, how has Wilson seen the team evolve during a season that has seen the North East side turn heads throughout the league?
“A lot of it is how we’ve attacked as a team, and the way we set up and attack really helps that. I’m happy with the way it’s going and obviously just want to keep improving that and progressing in that department.
“The pitch is one of if not the biggest factor in how we’ve tried to play as a team. It’s been really exciting to play on it and I can imagine it’s a lot more exciting to watch.”
And in terms of his own performances, what is Wilson most happy with?
“My attack has come on a lot this year, that’s probably the most pleasing thing in terms of the season, if I am going to say what I am most happy with.”
Although results may not always have gone the Falcons’ way it’s certainly been a memorable season, so what will Wilson take away as his own highlights?
“As part of the team, the Gloucester and Exeter games at home; winning those real tight battles, the feeling of winning those games and the feeling afterwards was really enjoyable and is the reason why we play this game. When you feel that you’ve grafted and come away with a result.
“My personal highlight was when we played down and Newport and we ground out a victory there, it was a great night to be part of because it was a good mix of young lads and experienced lads.
“In that one I felt I had a decent game and it is just one of those nights that I won’t forget. The fact it was away down at Newport, its hostile – they hate paying the English. They had Faletau playing, they started Lee Byrne, they had internationals in the team.
“We went down with a load of belief, a load of enthusiasm and energy and came away with a tight win. It was also a great night out afterwards!” It was a string of performances along those lines which saw Wilson’s name being bandied about as a candidate for international honours. Although the call up didn’t come this season, how did the Falcons’ stalwart feel about the suggestion?
“It was a bit of a weird one. I wasn’t expecting it and then all of a sudden it came round that people were putting my name forward for those kinds of things, but I didn’t think about it too much.
“Obviously I’d like to play for my country but I wasn’t thinking I should be in this, I was thinking if I was in it then happy days! Hopefully this year has built another block towards maybe getting that recognition, but I don’t get too hung up about it and I’m fairly laid back about it.”
With only two matches left of the Aviva Premiership season how will Wilson, who became a father for the first time earlier this season, be spending his summer?
“I always make the error of starting training a bit too early, coming in and then six weeks down the line wishing I’d taken a bit more of a rest. I’ve played quite a lot of rugby this year, so I’ll be trying to get a good rest and spend a bit of time with the family and appreciate some of that time, rather than charge around.”
And finally, who would Mark Wilson choose as his own Star of the Season?
“I think two people for me. If you’re going on pure class, it’s obviously Sinoti. He has been amazing this year, he’s got some individual brilliance and tries that have got us in games or helped us keep close in games.
“But if you’re going on consistency, I have to say Juan Pablo Socino. He’s turned up to every game, he puts his body on the line every game and he has gotten some crucial scores when we’ve needed them, like the Wasps game when he pretty much ran the length for that score.”
Is Mark Wilson your Newcastle Falcons Heineken Fans Star of the Season? Votes are open until 5pm on Friday 15th May for fans to cast their votes and be in with the chance of winning two tickets to the club’s end of season celebration and award ceremony on 19th May at Kingston Park.
Click here to cast your vote and enter the competition to win this and other prizes. Each fan is allowed one vote per day up to and including the final deadline.