Andy Tuilagi hoping to make an impact in tomorrow’s Big Season Finale after a season disrupted by injury.
As the 2014/15 season draws to a close, one man looking to make a final impact is Centre Anitelea (Andy) Tuilagi.
Tuilagi, 28, arrived in the North East last summer alongside older brother Alesana and nephew Brian, but has been limited by injury to only four appearances in a Falcons jersey.
“I had a bad hamstring so that was a bit disappointing but it’s finally sorted now, and it was good to be back playing last weekend, it’s been a long time.”
Making his first appearance last Saturday against old club Sale, Tuilagi enjoyed his time out on the pitch.
“I enjoyed the run out, when I have the opportunity I always like to do my best. But it was my first time back and it was good to be back to my old club too.
“There are a lot of my mates still playing there so it was good to see them after the game, we had a chat and things like that. Mark Cueto and others, there are good memories there.”
Despite scoring three tries, the Falcons still came out on the losing end of a 34-28 score line last weekend, although Tuilagi believes there are still a great deal of positives to take forward.
“I think we had a bad start to the first half. We came back strong in the second half but it was a bit too late by then. Apart from that we could have won that game and I think the team and the club are going in the right direction.
“I know we’re not winning games but you can tell from our performances, we’re scoring more tries and you can tell people are excited to watch us play; we love to throw the ball around and just play good rugby.
“The boys are playing really well and I think that they’re in a good position to keep going next year, keep scoring tries and get some wins!”
With just one more game, the home fixture against Harlequins tomorrow afternoon, to be played in the 2014/15 season, many are hoping to see the Falcons’ new exciting brand of rugby pay off and end the season on a high.
And for Tuilagi, having played a part against Quins at the Stoop earlier this season, he is hoping to be able to make his own impact from the bench tomorrow.
“It’s the last game of the season but we don’t want to change much, we’d like to stick to the good stuff we’ve been doing well and we’re going into this game to win it, especially for the boys who are leaving.
“I’m hoping to be involved tomorrow and every time I’ve got the opportunity to play I’ve always enjoyed it and been excited. Hopefully there’s a lot more to come if I can stay fit, and hopefully I can help the team too.”
Despite issues with injury, Tuilagi has clearly come to feel at home in Newcastle over the past year.
“I’ve been disappointed with the rugby side because of my injury but the club and other things I’ve been very happy with and we’ve settled in now.
“The club is good and all of the people around and supporting the club are really nice people too.”
One thing he’s less comfortable with, however, is the Northern English climate, and the Samoan-born powerhouse admits he’s looking forward to a trip home in the coming weeks.
“We’re going back home after the season so I can’t wait to go back and see the family, and chase some sun! It’s warm all year in Samoa, we have a rainy season for a month but the whole year is warm – 28 to 30 degrees every day so it’s good!
“We’ll just be seeing the family and just enjoying staying at home for the few weeks we’re off, because then when we get back here it’ll be another ten months away from home.”
Tomorrow’s game against Harlequins kicks off at 3.30pm at Kingston Park Stadium. Tickets for the game are still available online, in person from the Kingston Park Box Office or by calling the Falcons’ 24 hour Ticket Hotline on 0871 226 6060, starting from £15 for adults and £7.50 for juniors.