Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons' Season Is Starting Afresh - Gopperth

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons' Season Is Starting Afresh - Gopperth

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smithr

NEWCASTLE Falcons flyhalf Jimmy Gopperth has drawn a line under a forgettable first half to the season, signalling a fresh start ahead of the New Year's Eve visit of Northampton Saints.

Gopperth's side sit six points adrift of fellow strugglers Worcester going into the back half of the Aviva Premiership season after a calendar year which has produced just four league victories from 24 attempts.

"Frustrating would be the word," said the 28-year-old when asked for his assessment of 2011.

"We have the team to be really pushing through, and when we play at our best we can go really well.

"We were hammered by injuries at the start of this season and, with the World Cup being on, that was the time when we could have made some decent progress. We have thrown a lot of matches away when we were right in them, but with half of the games gone, the way I look at it is the next 11 in the Premiership are the start of a new season for us."

With top-flight survival the immediate aim under ambitious new ownership, Gopperth added: "First and foremost we need to be here as a Premiership team next year and when you look at the table it is still quite tight there.

"There is nothing we cannot do, and the mind-set has to be looking forward at the games ahead rather than worrying about that has already happened.

"We can go up and beyond in 2012. The boys seem keen for it, and we are getting great backing from Semore Kurdi as our new owner.

"That is good, and we all want to make this club a force not just in England but throughout Europe."

Whether or not Gopperth remains on hand beyond the end of the current season remains a burning issue, with the Kiwi's lucrative contract up in June. From next week onward potential suitors can legitimately approach the prolific marksman, who has bagged two consecutive Golden Boots despite being part of a side toiling away at the wrong end of the table. …

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