Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Andy Shocked by Bench Role; Falcons Lock Van der Heijden Reveals Call-Up Surprise

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Andy Shocked by Bench Role; Falcons Lock Van der Heijden Reveals Call-Up Surprise

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith

ANDREW van der Heijden was as shocked as anybody by his last-minute call-up against Saracens on Sunday, but the Newcastle Falcons lock insists he is now back to full fitness and ready for LV= Cup duty.

The recovering Kiwi lock had travelled to Watford as forward cover due to a shortage of bodies, but was a last-minute addition to the bench as openside Will Welch dropped out with illness.

"It was a bit of a surprise to get the callup," said Van der Heijden, who returned after a month on the sidelines to play the last 20 minutes.

"I went down with the team as 25th man, which basically means I was just on hand in case anybody picked up an injury. "Being 25th man is a tough role because you have to travel and be ready to play, but you know that the chances are you won't be involved in the game at all.

"It is easy for your mind to wander, but you just have to stay focused because you never know when someone will pull out of the squad."

Starting the first game of the season against Bath but fracturing a rib in the process, the 27-year-old said: "As a secondrow that is an area which is going to be exposed in any game.

"I felt it a bit in the warm-up against Saracens, but once I was on the field it was 100% and there were no problems at all."

Despite a 25-5 defeat there were plenty of positives for the Falcons, but the former Auckland man insisted that collective responsibility must be taken for their line-out shortcomings.

"We have a good set of backs who attacked well when they had the ball, so if our set-piece had been up to scratch then it would have been different," he said.

"James Hudson commands a lot of our line-out, and the guys coming in have big shoes to fill with him being suspended. In his absence we just did not support the thrower enough, we missed lifts and were lazy in our movement. …

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