Mark Wilson says Newcastle Falcons are excited to start 2016 with a huge Aviva Premiership fixture against Bath at Kingston Park Stadium.
As people around the North East recover from their New Year’s Eve festivities there’s still one more festive date in the minds of Newcastle Falcons players and fans.
This Saturday the club welcome Bath to Kingston Park Stadium for their first game of 2016 and Falcons stalwart Mark Wilson says the team couldn’t be more excited.
“It’s always a great atmosphere around this time of year and we always get excited about playing at home and in front of our fans, so the boys are really relishing the challenge.
“We’d love to kick off the year on a positive and give the fans that have given us so much support something back, so we’ll try to repay that.”
Despite their current position at ninth place in the league, Wilson is keen to highlight the challenges that this weekend’s opposition will bring.
“Bath might not have been firing as well as they would and that’s a chance for us, but they’re still a good good side with a lot of international players.
“That said though we showed glimpses of some really good stuff last weekend against tough opposition, so there’s a lot of confidence from us too going into the game.”
The game in question is the Falcons’ Boxing Day trip to Leicester Tigers, a fixture which saw the teams drawing 10 all at half time before Leicester pulled away for the victory.
“In the first 20 minutes last weekend we really showed what we were about, and if we play like that and stick to that we’ll compete and we’ll beat teams.
“We’ve talked this week about how we stick to our game plan and stay disciplined within our roles because we know that’s what works for us, so it’s a case of going out and doing that this weekend against Bath.”
For fans last weekend’s game was a particularly interesting one as it saw 26-year-old Wilson move from his traditional position at Flanker to the Second Row. It may have been an unexpected move to many but it was one Wilson took in his stride, gaining praise from spectators, coaches and team mates alike.
“Other teams have done it in the past when they’ve looked to get four back rows on the pitch,” the versatile forward explained.
“That’s nothing against the other second rows it’s just a game plan thing that meant we had four guys on the pitch who were putting the tackle in at the breakdown and were maybe slightly more mobile. It gives us the extra option of having that flexibility and the extra back row on the pitch.
“Last weekend I played as I normally do, the only really difference was in the scrums; I’ll play wherever is best for the team and if that’s in the second row then so be it. I’m just happy to be playing after a frustrating couple of weeks trying to get my knee right and I’m looking forward to this weekend, Bath’s going to be a really good challenge.”
Although still waiting for their first Aviva Premiership victory of the season, there has been much to be positive about in the Falcons’ most recent performances. But Wilson believes there is still more to come from his team.
“I think the biggest thing that we’ve improved on since that first block of four games is that we’ve got a bit of intensity and edge about us, wanting to go out there and physically impose ourselves.
“The thing that’s been letting us down though is that accuracy in certain areas. Some of the boys are putting in so much work when you look at the GPS and you can’t ask any more from them, it’s just the fact that we’ve made small errors and lost the ball again. That’s the biggest area of focus for us to improve on.”
And with Saturday’s huge game lying in wait, there is much for the Falcons to be excited about.
“From last weekend we have that appetite of having played against a top side at Welford Road and for periods looking really good.
“It’s a case now of being on our home patch against a star-studded team full of internationals and having a great opportunity for the boys to go out and express themselves and give themselves a challenge.
“A lot of the focus has to be on us and our performance and we’ll face whatever team they put in front of us.”
Saturday’s game against Bath kicks off at 3pm. Tickets for the game are available to buy now online, in person from the Kingston Park Stadium Box Office or by calling the Falcons’ 24 hour Ticket Hotline on 0871 226 6060.