Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hogg's New Lease of Life in the Falcons' Fast Lane; THE PREVIEW: London Welsh V Newcastle Falcons, Kassam Stadium, Today, 2.30pm

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hogg's New Lease of Life in the Falcons' Fast Lane; THE PREVIEW: London Welsh V Newcastle Falcons, Kassam Stadium, Today, 2.30pm

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith Twitter: @markismith50 Facebook: www.facebook.com/chroniclerugby

WHEN rugby players say the game catches up with them, they don't always mean it in the literal sense, but Ally Hogg is finally enjoying life in the fast lane for Newcastle Falcons.

At the age of 31, he now finds himself in a side playing the fast and wide brand of rugby which is tailormade for his game, on a perfect Kingston Park pitch.

The Scottish veteran has endured years of trudging through the mud in a team trying to grind out results through the tight-five, but is now back at the heart of a new-look Newcastle where the emphasis lies on pace and entertainment.

A man-of-the-match performance in victory over Exeter last weekend bore testament to that, Hogg's vision and acceleration laying a try on a plate for Samoan flyer Sinoti Sinoti.

The athletic No.8 said: "I have had a reasonable run and it is nice to get back into the team, but I am pleased for the boys more than anything else, just to get that win.

"The way we are playing the game now suits my style, with the play going a bit wider and trying to hit some lines.

"That suits the players we have got in the team; it is certainly more enjoyable to play and I dare say more enjoyable to watch.

"I am not really built for coming round the corner and running into big people, but the way we are playing at the moment fits in more with what I think I can bring to the team.

"It is about running angles and picking things out, and it is not as if I am the only one.

"Guys like Dom Barrow, Will Welch, Alex Rogers, Mark Wilson, Richard Mayhew and a number of others are doing the same, and those type of players benefit from what we are trying to do now.

On the tighter stuff, we have guys like Calum Green coming in and doing a great job there, and he is combining that with calling the line-outs, which is a new string to his bow."

Travelling to London Welsh today in search of their first back-to-back league victories in more than a year, Hogg said: "London Welsh is another big game for us and if we can go down there and get two on the bounce, it would be massive.

"That would stand us in good stead going into a month of cup games and give us a bit of confidence to carry into those competitions."

Despite the Exiles' status as whipping boys of the division, the Scot is not buying into the notion that this afternoon's trip to Oxford will be a leisurely stroll. Far from it.

He said: "Welsh have played pretty well in a lot of their games and have only really fallen away in the last 10 or 15 minutes.

"Harlequins, last weekend, was perhaps the exception, but they have a lot of experience and some big lads in that squad. Guys like Olly Barkley, Tom May and Dean Schofield have been around this level for a long time; they know how to play and it will be tough down there. …

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