As the squad report back for pre-season training Newcastle Falcons 2013-14 Player of the Season Mark Wilson said he is ready to go and continue developing his own performance.
Wilson, who made his 100th appearance for the club against Newport Gwent Dragons in the LV= Cup last January, was one of the Falcons’ stand out performers on their return to the Aviva Premiership and is hoping to build on what was a good season for him.
“The amount of game time I got was massive. A player can only develop if he gets game time and I was lucky enough to get a lot! I played a lot of full 80 minutes too which helps with fitness, so I felt that one of our strengths last season.”
The Kendal-born back row admits the team were frustrated with many results last season. “Things didn't always go to plan and as a team we didn't get the results we wanted. However, there were a lot of little margins there that we can work on, and we did achieve the overall goal of staying up and there is a lot of promise there.
“When we played the top four teams we showed how good we can be; in the second half against Northampton Saints we beat them, and the same in the first half against Leicester Tigers. Last season we played in periods but now we need to get that over 80 minutes.
With his partner expecting their first baby in a few weeks, Wilson welcomed the summer break as a chance to prepare for the months ahead. “Four weeks off was about the right time. We spent a lot of time seeing family and getting ready for the baby to arrive but now I’m back and looking forward to getting stuck into training. There’s a good buzz about the place and pre-season training is going to be tough but getting back to the grindstone will be fun and I’m looking forward to it.
“The way we address pre-season this year is going to be slightly different and hopefully we’ll be challenging teams in all areas. We have a very fit squad and hopefully that will give us the physical dominance which will help us grind out the extra wins we need this year.”
Looking to the season ahead, Mark says the secrets to strong performance are self-belief. “Last year we came up from the Championship thinking we were good, but now we have to recognise that we’re all Premiership players and we’re all capable.
“Towards the back end of the season the coaches were working hard to fill us with confidence but now we have to start believing that. We still have a lot of young lads coming up in the core of the team but all of us are another year older and wiser, and hopefully have that confidence.
A product of the Falcons academy system, Wilson joined the Falcons full-time in summer 2010. Since then there have been a lot of changes around the club. He explained: “There have been a lot of changes to coaching and the way we play over the years, but each year we’re moving closer to where we want to be. When Dean came in two years ago he set us a plan for the next four to five years; the first year we won the Championship and this year was about survival which we’ve done. Now we really need to kick on to the next chapter and everything is in place for us to do that. For me, I just want to keep improving and hopefully keep the shirt. My aim is keep playing as many games as I can next season and then we’ll see what happens”
With Falcons team mate Kieran Brookes having come off the bench to pick up his first full cap for England at the weekend, Wilson admits that thoughts of international rugby are in the back of his mind. “At the moment I can only control the controllables. But if I keep playing as I did last year and hopefully keep progressing, and if we get the results we want and play well in those matches then hopefully we’ll start to attract attention, but for now I just want to keep enjoying my rugby and be the best I can be.
Newcastle Falcons season tickets for 2014-14 are now available starting from only £200, with free season tickets available to Under 11s if purchased with an adult. Click here or contact the Falcons’ 24 hour Ticket Hotline on 0871 226 6060 for more information.