Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Patience Pays off as Pilgrim Gets Call

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Patience Pays off as Pilgrim Gets Call

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith Sports writer

TAKING the constructive rather than destructive route when being left out of the side, Chris Pilgrim hopes to reap the rewards for Newcastle Falcons in Romania tomorrow.

The scrum-half is poised to make his first senior start of the season as the Falcons take on Bucharest Wolves in the Amlin Challenge Cup, having remained patient while Mike Blair and Warren Fury shared the No 9 shirt.

"You have got to keep 1 positive," said the 27-year-old, who missed most of last season with a serious knee ligament injury.

"The coaches are just here to win, and I have got to remember that it is never anything personal against me when I am left out of the team.

"Their thinking is that the options they are choosing are going to be better for the side, and the only thing I can do is show them what I am capable of when I do get my chances."

Such maturity in outlook reflects the mind-set of a player who has always kept the bigger picture in mind, using the arrival of Blair to advance his own understanding of the game rather than carping about the Scot being selected ahead of him.

"Mike has been great," he said of the former Brive and Edinburgh man, who spent a decade in the Scotland squad.

"I think about rugby a lot and watch it all the time, so I am very similar to Mike in that respect and we chat about it frequently.

"We were talking the other day about how kicking off nine is absolutely horrendous, and we blame Saracens for that. The amount of emphasis they put on kicking from scrum-half is obscene, but we are always talking about stuff like that and you can learn a lot just being around someone as experienced as Mike."

Similarly philosophical about the Falcons' European exploits, rather than a distraction from the bread and butter of the Premiership the Birkenhead-born half-back sees it as a new frontier to be conquered. Pilgrim said: "The European competitions are nice, because they are new challenges which expose you to different styles of rugby.

"In the Premiership you kind of know everyone and they all play a similar way, so it is refreshing to face a different challenge and to see how you cope with it. …

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