Evan Olmstead says he is raring to go for Sunday’s Anglo-Welsh Cup trip to Newport Gwent Dragons, having sat out the past fortnight.
Olmstead is not registered for the European Challenge Cup so has had to watch from the sidelines since the Falcons’ Aviva Premiership victory over Bath on January 6. But having been named in the starting XV for Sunday’s trip to Rodney Parade, the Canadian international is itching to get back into match action.
“I’m really looking forward to being back out there after a couple of weeks of fitness fun times, which has been lovely,” said the former London Scottish man. “It has helped my shoulder recover from a couple of niggles.
“Your neck and shoulders can get quite stiff and sore if you’re just banging all the time so it was good to just have two weeks of running.
“I’ve had a similar shoulder injury before and I was playing week in, week out, so it took forever to get better. You keep re-injuring it, basically. But it’s feeling pretty much 100% now, which is happy days after two or three weeks since I did it. I’ve been a bit sore but it’s definitely manageable, and the physio team assured me there was no damage done. It was just a bit of inflammation, so that gives you a bit of confidence.”
Expecting a full-on battle on Sunday despite quarter-final qualification looking unlikely, Olmstead said: “I haven’t been to Newport before but I’ve heard good things. Rod Snow, a Canadian international, played there for a lot of years, and if he fitted in there that makes a statement about the place.
“Hopefully it rains and the field becomes a complete bog, because that’s a forward’s game. Looking at the videos we’ve noticed their pitch. When the Ospreys played there the pitch definitely looked like it had a lot to be desired, but I prefer that, really.
“We’ve got a pretty big, physical forward pack going down there. There’ll be a few dogs out there and it will be a confrontational battle. We’re looking to bring a real physicality back to our defence. It had maybe gone a bit missing in the last few weeks.
“For the forward pack in particular it’s going to be a slog, and bringing back the physicality is something we’ve talked about as a forward pack. If we don’t do that we’ll probably get rolled, but if we put them on the back foot in defence and make them kick the ball back to us and attack, that’s exciting.”
A strong-looking Falcons side are using Sunday’s Anglo-Welsh Cup encounter to try and lay the groundwork for their Aviva Premiership return at Sale Sharks on February 10, Olmstead confident they will be in the right physical and mental shape when league matters come back onto the agenda.
“We’ve got a run of Premiership games coming up, so it would be nice to kick on home,” said the qualified accountant.
“I haven’t really been that pleased with my last couple of performances. The team has done well but Saracens and Bath – they weren’t terrible, but they weren’t where I’d like to be from my own personal standpoint. I’m looking to bounce back from that, put it behind me and get into a nice patch of form.
“Sunday matters because it’s about momentum. It helps your mental state, it helps your frame of mind going into the next game and it’s important from that perspective. Also it’s a matter of pride.
"It can be hard to be motivated if you’re not playing for a trophy or whatever, but you don’t go out there to lose. You go out to win every week. You win, you feel good about it and the bus ride home is a much more enjoyable prospect than if you lose.
“We want to take some good momentum and vibes from the team on Sunday. If you’re losing every week you get down in the dumps, if you win every week it doesn’t matter what is happening – everything’s happy.”