Merrick ready to seize cup chance

Wednesday 16 March 2022

Newcastle Falcons lock George Merrick sees Friday’s Premiership Rugby Cup visit of Leicester Tigers as a chance to showcase the club’s squad depth.

The former Harlequins, Clermont and Worcester lock has played once since his summer move from Sixways, and is determined to put up his hand for further opportunities.

“I was at Harlequins when we won the LV Cup in 2013, as it was called back then, and I’ve been involved with a final and semi-final,” said the 29-year-old.

“It’s generally about younger lads coming in and getting a chance, or getting game time into certain guys, and it’s a great opportunity. It’s still a big game, live on TV against an unbeaten Leicester side, and it’s great exposure for the guys who get to play.

“Leicester are the top side in the country at the moment, and regardless of what players they put out it’s going to be a big test.

“From the Newcastle angle, looking at the squad we’ve got, there’s still a huge amount of quality in our ranks even when things get rotated. We’ve got class players from academy teenagers all the way up to the likes of the senior pros, and there’s not really much of a drop-off in my opinion.”

Asked about life on Tyneside following his move north last July, Merrick said: “I really love Newcastle as a city.

“I hadn’t been up here much before, but I’ve enjoyed going round and seeing a lot of different places. It’s a lot different to where I’ve lived before, but it’s great, and I’ve enjoyed being with the Falcons.

“We’ve got a great group of lads here, and I couldn’t have asked any more of them in terms of how they’ve welcomed me in. Unfortunately I haven’t played as much as I would have liked but I’ll just have to show what I’m about when I get my chance, and hope that I can earn more opportunities through that.

“You just have to try and stay focused when you’re not getting selected. I know it’s easier said than done for some people, and the last time I played was something like six months ago. You never know when your chance will come, so it’s just about being professional. At the end of the day that’s what you’re paid to do, and if you want to go out drinking every weekend or just switch off mentally then go and be a labourer.”

Merrick has added another string to his bow over the past month, trying his hand at being a summariser on the new Premiership Rugby TV streaming service.

“I’ve loved doing the TV work, to be honest,” he said.

“It’s not something I’ve ever done before, but it’s always nice to try something new. I did our Premiership game against Bath a few weeks ago, then last weekend’s against Saracens, and it was good fun.

“It was interesting to see the game from a different point of view, to do something within rugby but away from what we normally do, and I enjoyed the experience. It’s been good exposure just to get my name out there, and even if nothing comes of it I’ve found it really interesting just to get out of my comfort zone and open myself up to the experience.”

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