Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Graham's Unseen Work Has Paid Off

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Graham's Unseen Work Has Paid Off

Article excerpt

Byline: Neil Cameron ? (0191) 201-6113 ? neil.cameron@ncjmedia.co.uk

THERE would have been some in the rugby world who thought Graham Steadman had last summer landed the easiest job in the game.

He was appointed defence coach with the Newcastle Falcons in what was most believed would be their one and only season in the Championship.

Such would be the ease which Steadman's new team would cruise through their season that some of the backs were going to go whole games without having to make a single tackle.

And as the Falcons have won every single match of this campaign, perhaps those doubters would feel their score was vindicated. They couldn't, in fact, be more wrong.

The reason why Falcons have dominated just about every team this season is that Steadman and the rest of the coaching staff have hammered home the point that every game was a challenge, that at no point would they tolerate anyone cruising along.

Steadman said: "The thing has surprised me most this season has been the teams we've played. There are good teams in this league.

"It's no surprise to me now that quite a few players in the Championship have been picked up by other clubs and will be playing in the Premiership next season and around Europe.

"At the beginning of the season, we were seen as the Manchester United of this campaign. Everyone wants to knock us off the perch. We are the big boys of this league. The most pleasing aspect in the eyes of the coaches is the players have gone out and performed.

"It's not always been to the best of our ability, but we do believe as a group in what we have been doing and that's got us over the finishing line. That is something we have been able to count on all season."

Ex-Great Britain rugby league star Steadman, who commanded a worldrecord transfer fee of PS170,000 as a player in 1989 leaving Featherstone for Castleford, scored 167 tries in a glittering 16-year career.

He spent four years with the Scotland team joining Dean Richard's staff last June, at a time when the Falcons didn't know for sure what league they would be; it was a risk, but one Steadman is delighted he made.

He said: "Having been on the international scene for a few years, albeit I had a taste of a consultancy position with Sale Sharks a couple of seasons ago, I always said if I got the chance to get back to the club scene with the right club, working week to week, the I'd much prefer that. …

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