Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

French Spell Helps Goosen; I'm a Better Player for Joining Metro - Falcons Ace

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

French Spell Helps Goosen; I'm a Better Player for Joining Metro - Falcons Ace

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith

GREG Goosen believes his five years in France will stand him in good stead as he prepares for his first season at Newcastle Falcons.

The South African utility back was thrust into the bright Parisian lights with the star-studded Racing Metro outfit, helping them seal promotion to the top domestic league before spending the back half of last season on loan with La Rochelle.

Now in his second month as a Falcons player, the Durban product said: "Coming from South Africa you do lead quite a sheltered existence, with being so far away from Europe.

"It was a completely different culture from what I was used to when I headed to France.

"Racing Metro really looked after me - they were building a team at the time to get into the Top 14 and that is what they ultimately did.

"Now they are one of the top club sides in Europe, and being in the same group as some of those stars was another learning experience for me."

Goosen's appearances for coach Pierre Berbizier's side included a 37-10 defeat by the Falcons in 2008 as Newcastle's clicked into gear during their pre-season friendly in the French city of Lille.

"I came on for the second half at full-back," he said in reference to the match, which came at the beginning of Racing's emphatic promotion campaign.

"For the rest of that season I went into the centres, and it was a big year for the club with guys like Andrew Mehrtens being brought in.

"Playing with an All Black legend like him taught me a lot and we had a really talented group with our Fijian wing Sireli Bobo and the like."

Gaining a solid grounding in European conditions and rugby philosophy, Goosen added: "In South Africa I never tested what I was able to do, because pretty much all of the games are played in perfect conditions on hard fields. …

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