Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Don't Write Us off, Says Defiant Dean

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Don't Write Us off, Says Defiant Dean

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith ? (0191) 201-6432 ? mark.smith@ncjmedia.co.uk

DEAN Richards says Newcastle Falcons' billing as relegation favourites is neither motivating nor annoying them ahead of the new Aviva Premiership season.

Almost every one of the major bookmakers has the RFU Championship winners installed as shortest price to finish bottom, but for Newcastle's director of rugby it is a storyline he is losing no sleep over "I have been there before, and heard the same old stuff," said Richards, whose side are at home to Irish province Connacht in Saturday's preseason outing.

"It doesn't faze or bother me, it is just something I dismiss. I think that if people were genuinely rugby enthusiasts and knew the game well, they would realise we are not actually a bad side on paper."

Relegated a year ago and promoted at the first attempt, stability is one of the Falcons' many assets this season after a summer of targeted recruitment which leaves the bulk of last year's side still in place.

Scottish internationals Mike Blair, Scott Lawson and Phil Godman are among the group coming in and, while Richards was understandably keen not to put a number on it, the former Leicester and Harlequins boss is hoping to do more than tread water in his first season back in the big time.

"People would probably get the wrong idea if I came out and said our ambition was to stay up, and it is not just that," said the former England and Lions back-rower, whose side drew last week's pre-season opener with Bath 21-21.

"Clearly I do want us to stay up, and what I don't want is for us to be down there near the bottom fighting it out. I want us to be a little bit higher up the ladder than that, but my goal is always the same, to win every game and be as high up the league as we possibly can be."

Refusing to accept second-best billing, even against the title contenders, Richards added: "You see some games, and teams look as if they have conceded the match before it has even kicked off. …

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