Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Veteran Blair Has Plenty Left to Offer the Falcons

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Veteran Blair Has Plenty Left to Offer the Falcons

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith Sports writer @markismith50

AS IF anyone needed a reminder, Mike Blair is demonstrating he is no spent force as Newcastle Falcons prepare to host Sale Sharks on Sunday.

Now at the age of 33 and a whole two years since the last of his 85 international appearances, the veteran Scot jolted a few memories with a supremely controlling display of scrum-half play during last week's windswept home victory over Gloucester.

Deployed from the start after playing second fiddle to Ruki Tipuna for much of the last two months, he said: "I am at the tail end of my career but I still feel I have got a lot to give.

"When I first joined Newcastle we had myself, Rory Lawson, Chris Pilgrim and Warren Fury, and this year there is Ruki here as well as Warren.

"I don't expect to start every game. I started the first three Premiership matches then came on from the bench, and I quite enjoy doing that.

"I feel I add a lot to the team as a replacement, but at the same time you want to be starting games.

"I think we will all be mixing and matching. By the end of the season I expect we will have all started a similar amount of games, and that is not a bad way to go forward."

Dispelling notions that his simply was a horses-for-courses selection based on a wet ball and a windy night, Blair joked: "I would hope not, anyway.

"I was relatively pleased with how things went against Gloucester, and it was a hell of a lot better this year than last year with having the 3G pitch.

"Last season if we had played the game in the same weather there would have been virtually no rugby, and it would have been 80 minutes of the two teams kicking the ball to each other.

"Even with a wet ball and a windy night now we still have a firm surface under-foot, and we can still try to play at the right times. I felt we did that quite effectively, and the key was being able to get out of our own half when we were against the wind.

"There was maybe a little bit of concern at only being three points up at half-time having played with the wind behind us, but we played some of our best rugby of the year during the second half. …

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