Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Newcastle Locks Are in Top Shape for Next Season; Falcons Legend Has No Second Row Fears

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Newcastle Locks Are in Top Shape for Next Season; Falcons Legend Has No Second Row Fears

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith

NEWCASTLE'S locking stocks are in fine fettle for next season, according to former Falcons and Scotland great Stuart Grimes.

He should know, having been capped 71 times in the second row by his country as well as racking up well over a century of appearances in his seven seasons at Kingston Park.

Countryman Scott MacLeod leads the line-out influx after his recent signing, with Grimes joking: "The good times will be back if they have a big Scottish influence!" The fourth-most-capped player in Scotland's history added: "I haven't played with Scott at international level because he was a little after my time, but I have played against him for the club and he is a very good operator.

"He is a borderer from Hawick, and is probably more of a line-out specialist than a big ball carrier, although he has a bit of that in his locker as well in fairness to him.

"He is a big tall guy and an ex-basketball player with his handling game, so he is very adept in the line-out and that is where I would probably expect to see the biggest contribution from him."

MacLeod is not the only key arrival in the locking department with Italian international Carlo Del Fava signed up from Aironi, while club captain James Hudson remains contracted for another season.

Grimes said: "It will be interesting to see what the Falcons coaches do when it comes to the selection of their second rows, because so much of it these days is about finding the right balance between the pure line-out guys and the more destructive ball-carriers and scrummagers.

"The fact that they have signed Carlo from Italy gives them more of what you might call a classic physical lock, and if they were to go for the classic balance then you would probably be looking to select Del Fava plus one of either Hudson or MacLeod.

"That would be the ideal blend if you went down the conventional route, although it definitely gives them options if they want to play the game a certain way in any particular week. …

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