Josh Matavesi says Newcastle Falcons’ mid-season training camp in Kendal has helped strengthen the team’s bond going into the back half of the campaign, which begins with Saturday’s Premiership Rugby Cup semi-final at Northampton Saints.
Following Sunday’s 28-12 triumph at Sale Sharks the squad enjoyed three days in Mark Wilson country, Matavesi explaining: “It wasn’t so much going away for a beasting, it was more spending time with each other away from rugby and finding things out about people that you wouldn’t normally talk about in your day-to-day training environment.
“I know we’re with each other every day and we did our training over there as normal, but it’s different when you’re away in camp. You get each other in the evenings and the mornings, you learn a bit more about what makes people tick and it brings the group even closer together.”
Highlighting the boost of last weekend’s bonus-point victory, the Fijian international said: “It was important to get a win under our belt, even if it was a scrappy performance at times.
“We needed it just to boost the morale, which in fairness has stayed pretty good throughout, but just more to get that bit of confidence back that you have when you’re winning. It changes things on a Monday morning, guys are happier and you can start to build from there.
“Our forwards got involved in a bit of niggle in the game – typically I stayed well out of it – but that was just us saying that we’re not afraid of anyyone and we’re never going to back down. It’s good, there was a bit of old-school in there and I quite like that.”
Determined to carry that winning momentum to Franklin’s Gardens, a ground at which they have won on their last three visits, Matavesi and his men will also have to contend with an early start as they prepare for a 12.15pm kick-off.
“The early kick-off is quite a funny one actually because it reminds me of my mini and junior rugby days,” said the Cornwall native.
“You’re basically getting up, having your breakfast and heading straight out to your game. I like the fact that we won’t have time to think about things, it’s straight to the ground and play, and personally I prefer that.”
Highlighting the importance of silverware despite the obvious main goal of climbing up the Premiership table, the centre said: “At the start of the season our message was that every competition we’re in, we’re going to try and win it, and that mind-set is good.
“It’s come around quite quickly, last weekend we didn’t know if we were going through our group but all of a sudden we’re in a semi-final, and we’re happy to be in the business end of a tournament again after playing in three semi-finals last season.
“We’re happy to go down to Northampton and face whatever squad they decide to put out, we’re confident we can perform there and get the win, and it’s more about us than worrying about them.
“Reducing the error count is going to be a big focus, our discipline last week at Sale was really good so we’ll be looking for a repeat of that, and if we can nail both of those things we give ourselves a strong chance of playing in a final.”