Coach Mark Laycock knows Sunday’s Singha Premiership finals will be a major step up from the group phase, but says his Newcastle Falcons squad have the quality to challenge for the title.
The Falcons meet Ospreys in the quarter-finals at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena, where the action gets underway at 2pm (live on BT Sport). And having won their qualifying competition for the sixth time in succession, Laycock is setting his sights on a serious push for the top prize.
He said: “The teams you are playing have all been winners or runners-up in their groups, so by definition the standard is higher. The pressure is increased with knock-out rugby and the fact there is more riding on every game, but the boys are relaxed and just focused on what they need to do.
“Should we get through against Ospreys we will meet either Wasps or Harlequins. As the home side Wasps will obviously be a tough proposition, and Quins also showed some real good attack during their qualifier. But our boys can play to a high standard and will be a match for anyone.”
Balancing the thirst for silverware with an eye on developing their up-and-coming prospects, Laycock said: “Aside from being a trophy worth winning in its own right, the Singha 7s is great exposure for these guys.
“For some of our lads who are fresh out of school it is a big step up to be playing live on TV in front of a big crowd. Our more experienced players will be more used to that side of things, and for them it is about stepping up and showing leadership qualities. To be fair they have done that really well over the last week or so, the younger guys have embraced their input and the bottom line is that we as a club want to win trophies.”
Laycock has made just one change to his squad for Sunday’s finals, Scotland Under-20s lock Andrew Davidson replacing scrum-half Ruaridh Dawson.
He said: “We have opted for stability and, looking across the board, that seems to be the case for most of the squads going into the finals.
“Changing a scrum-half for a lock-forward marginally changes the balance of the group, but not too much. Andrew has been training with us for the past couple of weeks and had been in line to play last week in any case, so he is aware of what we are doing and is ready to jump into it. His inclusion doesn’t change what we are about.
“If you are putting out the same team who have learned from the experience of playing in the pool stage, it is going to stand you in better stead. We have had a little bit of preparation time at the back end of the week to get ourselves ready, and we are keen to get into it.”
Tickets for Sunday’s Singha 7s finals are priced £10 for adults and £5 for juniors. To book go to www.wasps.co.uk/tickets .
Newcastle Falcons squad for Singha 7s finals:
1 Dan Temm (captain)
2 Santiago Socino
3 Glen Young
4 Max Davies
5 Harrison Orr
6 Adam Radwan
7 Andrew Davidson
8 Tom Catterick
9 Dan Marshall
10 Joel Hodgson
11 Ben Stevenson
12 Tom Ffitch