Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

No Such Thing as a Friendly; New Falcons Skipper Primed for Pre-Season Clashes

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

No Such Thing as a Friendly; New Falcons Skipper Primed for Pre-Season Clashes

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith

PRE-SEASON friendlies mean very little, so the perceived wisdom goes. But try telling that to Newcastle Falcons' new captain Will Welch.

The newly-installed skipper leads his side in the first match of tomorrow's double-header at Kingston Park, starting at open-side against Doncaster Knights.

The 1pm kick-off is then followed at 5.30pm when another Falcons side takes on Leeds Carnegie.

Further friendlies against Edinburgh and Ulster follow in the next fortnight, and for Welch the days of treating the games as a chance to stretch the legs and take a tackle are long gone.

He said: "Perhaps in the past we have been guilty of thinking 'oh well, it's only a pre-season game', but we have to remember that these matches lead directly into the start of our Championship season.

"Bristol away on the opening day is as tough a fixture as you can get in this league. We need to be going down there with some momentum behind us, and it is important we put into practice what we have been doing throughout the summer." Beaming at the prospect of becoming the Falcons' youngest ever captain of the professional era when he takes the field tomorrow lunch-time, the 22-year-old said: "It is at that point now where everybody is really just excited to get going, and kick-off can't come quickly enough.

"The last few weeks have been great and I have really enjoyed the new role, although to be honest it has not been that much different to my normal involvement with the club.

"We all have our team meetings together, so I have not had a load of extra stuff to worry about.

"Maybe as captain I might say a little bit more when we do have those meetings, but I don't want to change myself too much."

Unperturbed by the prospect of the Falcons taking part in two games on the same day, Welch said: "I think it has worked out well, and hopefully the fans will enjoy it. …

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