Fresh from his debut try against Coventry, centre Gareth Owen is glad to be fit and firing for Newcastle Falcons ahead of Friday night’s Championship Cup visit of Hartpury.
The summer signing from Leicester Tigers missed the first eight games of the season after undergoing knee surgery, but after scoring the final try in their 46-7 demolition of Coventry Owen is now keen to maintain his upward trajectory.
“It was great just to finally get out onto the pitch after a bit of a troubled pre-season,” said the 31-year-old, who collected a scoring pass from Darren Barry to score between the posts.
“I had a little bit of knee surgery over the summer which kind of dragged on for a little bit longer than we’d expected, we erred on the side of caution and I just had to take my medicine in terms of sitting out most of the first block of games to get it totally right.
“You’ve just got to get on with it in that situation, it’s obviously not ideal but it probably made it all the more special to finally get out there against Coventry and to mark my debut with a try.”
The former Ospreys, Scarlets and Leicester midfield man joked: “I’m probably not renowned for my try-scoring record so it was special to get one on my debut, mainly because my debuts are normally known for me getting sin-binned!
“It was just great to be out there though, first and foremost. When you join a new club you want to be straight into the pot being considered for selection, and it’s harder to integrate with the lads when you’re stuck in the gym or doing your rehab.
“That side of it was tough but the boys have been great with me, and it’s nice to be in amongst it now.
“I’ve been watching all the games during my time out, and the results speak for themselves with nine wins from nine. In our home games especially we’ve really put a few points on teams, it’s a tough place to come to and we’ll obviously be looking for that trend to continue throughout the whole season.”
Six points clear at the top of the Greene King IPA Championship after six rounds and four points clear at the top of their Championship Cup group after three games, Newcastle will be facing familiar opposition on Friday having already met Hartpury on two occasions.
The Falcons were 52-14 winners in rural Gloucestershire on October 5 and then 45-7 winners on Tyneside a fortnight later, Owen nonetheless refusing to underestimate their opponents.
“We’ve played Hartpury twice already this season so we pretty much know what they’re going to bring, and they’re a decent side,” he said.
“They throw the ball around a bit and they’ve got some good ball-players in the back line, but to be honest I think it’s more about getting our own stuff in order rather than focusing too much on them.
“If we get our game right then we’re not too worried what the other teams are going to do, although obviously we’ll give them due respect and do our analysis like any other game.”
Insisting the Championship Cup is a goal worth pursuing despite the stated aim for the season being their Premiership return, the Welshman added: “Silverware is silverware, and as much as we’ve said promotion is our goal for this season we just want to win every game we play.
“The kind of over-arching theme for the season is that we want to maintain a Premiership standard, and that means doing it week to week in whichever competition we’re playing.”
Enjoying life off the field as well as on it, Owen said: “I was actually quite surprised because we had a very decent summer up here, and it was only very recently that I’ve had to start getting the windscreen scraper out on a morning.
“It’s not too different to Wales in terms of the weather, and looking at the area as a whole the family absolutely love it up here. We do way more now as a family in terms of days out than we ever did back home, the kids are settled in school and we’re all slowly picking up the language!”
Asked what he hopes to add to the Falcons’ armoury, he said: “I’ll hope to add a bit of experience, ball-carrying ability and direction – I’d think those are probably the reasons why I’ve been brought here.
“We have a lot of really talented young players here who have impressed me a lot, and hopefully I can help those guys along with some aspects of their game management. There’s a lot of quality here, so I’m just looking to make a contribution wherever I can really.”
Tickets for Friday’s 8pm kick-off against Hartpury can be bought by clicking here, calling 0871 226 6060 or visiting the Kingston Park ticket office in person.
The game will be preceded by a BUCS Super Rugby match between Northumbria University and Hartpury at 4pm on the main field. Entry to this game will be via a Falcons match ticket.