Canadian international Evan Olmstead knows Newcastle Falcons are in for an Aviva Premiership battle at Sixways on Saturday, where they meet Worcester Warriors.
The back-rower is in line to make his 24th appearance for the Falcons in the 3pm kick-off, and is not taking the opposition lightly despite the Warriors being sat at second-bottom in the table.
Part of the Newcastle team which defeated Northampton 25-22 at St James’ Park in their last league outing, he said: “Northampton brought a lot of physicality that day, as Worcester will on Saturday, and it’s dealing with those big forwards when they come route one down the middle.
“Down at Worcester we have to front up in the same way we did against Northampton, and if we do that we have a fantastic back line who will take care of business.
“Worcester have a good scrum, a good maul and they’re very physical. You have guys like Donncha O’Callaghan and Dave Denton running around, just to name a couple, and they’ve got big, hard ball-carriers. You’ve got to be prepared for that and ready to sacrifice your body for the cause, but their pitch is similar to ours and I’m hoping it will be a fast-paced game. You’ll have two sets of forwards crashing into each other and two sets of backs looking to play some footy, so it has a bit of everything for the supporters.”
The Falcons welcome back wing pairing Vereniki Goneva and Sinoti Sinoti after missing out on their European Challenge Cup quarter-final victory over Brive, Olmstead declaring himself a fully-fledged fan of the Pacific islands duo.
“I don’t know how Niki runs so fast,” said the 21-times capped Canadian back-five forward.
“When you watch him he looks like he’s just walking, but good luck trying to keep up with him. Then on the other wing you have Sinoti with his crazy feet, and it’s hard for guys to figure out where he’s going. I don’t think he knows himself half the time, which makes it even more difficult for defenders to read him, but it’s good having those guys on the end of the line when the forwards punch holes and things open up for them.
“It’s not even just those guys, Josh Matavesi and Chris Harris have been going great in the centres, Floody is always a threat at 10 and our scrum-halves keep things moving. We’ve got danger all over the park, forwards who do the hard grind, and I wouldn’t want to play against us at the moment.”
Going into round 19 sat fourth in the table, Olmstead insisted the players’ minds were purely on the short term rather than speculating on where they may or may not finish.
“It’s really tight up near the top of the league and we’re right in that mix, but the key for us is just to focus on the next game,” he said.
“If we start looking at other scores or thinking about games which are a couple of weeks away, that’s when we can come unstuck, but if we keep winning our next game and just concentrating on our roles within the team, we should be OK.
“It’s a fantastic place to be at the moment, the boys are going well in all areas and it’s a happy dressing room. We’ve started to win the kind of games which we might have let slip away in previous seasons, I think part of that is down to our conditioning because we’re fitter and we’re thinking more clearly towards the end of games, and the belief around the club is huge.
“The good thing is that our squad hasn’t changed drastically, so it’s pretty much the same core of guys who were here last year. We’re used to our system, we know how we want to play and we’re just improving together.”
Having starred in The Big One a fortnight ago when a club record home crowd of 30,174 roared the Falcons home against Northampton, he said: “It was a big honour to get selected for the St James’ Park game and the whole experience of it didn’t disappoint.
“Just to be on that same field where so many great players have been before, both in football and rugby, was awesome, and it definitely had a World Cup vibe about it with all the fireworks, the big crowd and the atmosphere. The good thing was we didn’t let all of that affect our game, we just got on with the job and I think in the end we were worth our narrow, hard-fought victory.”