Nili Latu believes Newcastle Falcons are growing as a team, as they prepare for Sunday’s Aviva Premiership visit of Northampton Saints.
Having already won more league games this season than they did during the whole of the previous campaign, the Tonga captain is back from a seven-month injury lay-off to aid their push through the last eight rounds of regular-season action.
Impressed by what his team-mates have produced in his absence, the combative back-rower said: “It is pleasing this season that we are looking ahead to top end of the table, rather than the bottom.
“We have still got to improve from where we are, and to lose like we did last weekend at Sale Sharks but still take two points, it shows where we are as a team. It’s a learning curve for everyone, and it’s nice to have the chance to regroup this week.
“It is about understanding and playing winning footy, and having that connection as a team. I believe this season is the turning point for the Falcons. We have shown how well we can go, and we don’t want to be one of those teams who have a good season then drop back the year after. We have set a high standard and I feel it will lead on to next season.”
Latu, who has missed the first half of the season after suffering an MCL ligament injury and dislocated knee-cap on international duty in June, added: “I believe it all stems from the pre-season the boys went through, the hard work the coaches are putting in and everything the boys are offering each other.
“We are very honest as a squad, we train hard and we ask a lot of one another. There is a huge self-belief in our own ability, both as individuals and as a team. The group is getting more mature now. We appreciate the fact we are a bloody good team, and it is all about the belief and hard work we put in every week.
“We know where we are in the table, and we know we can finish higher than that. But that happens by doing it week by week, applying in games what we are doing in training, and if we do that we will definitely get to where we want to be at the end of the season.”
Tickets for Sunday’s visit of Northampton Saints (kick-off 3pm) are available by calling 0871 226 6060, from the stadium in person or by clicking here.