Returning forward Evan Olmstead has reported nothing but positive vibes as he begins his second stint with Newcastle Falcons.
The Canadian international landed on Tyneside over the weekend and has been straight into training with the squad ahead of Sunday’s Gallagher Premiership crunch clash with Worcester Warriors, buoyed by the experience of winning the Mitre 10 Cup with Auckland during his season in New Zealand.
Olmstead was part of the Falcons squad which last season reached three semi-finals and achieved their highest league placing in two decades, and despite the club currently propping up the Premiership table he believes the scene is set for a late-season surge.
“I love Newcastle as a city, I love the Falcons as a club and I want to do the best I can for however long I end up being here,” he said.
“It’s been the best part of a year since I’ve been away, I’m excited to be back and just keen to get stuck into it all again. I had a great year with Auckland in winning the Mitre10 Cup, I did pre-season with the Blues ahead of Super Rugby and played a couple of their pre-season games, but when Dean Richards got in touch and the option to come back to Newcastle came on the table I felt it was a great opportunity.
“The Blues is a great set-up and I really got a lot out of being in that environment, but equally I enjoy the way the Falcons do things and it’s great to be back here for a second crack. The guys in the squad, the coaching staff and the supporters up here - it all contributes to making it a place you want to be at.”
Reporting positive impressions upon his return to training, Olmstead said: “The buzz around the club has actually been great – that’s one thing I’ve really picked up on.
“We’ve got the systems and structures in place, training has been great and it’s just about fine-tuning that accuracy so that when you’re in the clutch moment of important games you perform your role effectively. Last season those big moments were going our way, and despite our current league position I really don’t see that we’re very far away from being the team we were last year.
“I’ve seen a few of the Falcons’ games this season on TV from New Zealand, including the European wins over Toulon and Montpellier, and there have been really good glimpses in some of the other matches.
“The boys have shown what they can do, it’s just about performing consistently over the duration of a long competition. Unfortunately it just hasn’t happened for the team this season and that’s got to change over the next few weeks, or else we’re in trouble.”
Sunday’s 3pm kick-off at home to Worcester offers a real launch pad for the Falcons to start to move away from the bottom spot, Olmstead not downplaying the significance of the fixture but insisting the league table is not uppermost in his thoughts.
“We’re starting to get down to the pointy end of the season where things become more difficult if you don’t win over the next couple of weeks, but there are eight games left and they’re all big,” he said.
“It’s not the case that Sunday is do or die in that respect, but clearly when you’re down there fighting for your life it’s important to get points on the board. That’s the nature of the Premiership, it’s a ruthless league and you have to perform if you don’t want to drop down.
“The point from the coaching team this week has really been not to get negative, not to lose focus about the good things in our game and to really be aware that we still have lots of opportunities to take points this season.
“We’re still right in it, we have lots of winnable games coming up, a lot of them at home, and teams don’t like coming up to Newcastle.
“It’s unanimously viewed as a hard place to come whenever I’ve spoken to players and coaches who’ve travelled here with other teams – it’s miles away from anywhere, it’s usually freezing cold and after a long travel to get here they’ve got to deal with the Falcons.
“At the front of our mind is the fact that we won’t allow ourselves to be distracted by the big picture. Obviously everyone knows about it and nobody is in denial, but we’ll be focusing entirely on our own roles within this next game and then moving onto the next one. Everything else will take care of itself.”
Tickets for Sunday’s game against Worcester Warriors are available by clicking here.