Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mayhew Wants a Flying Start - and a Top-Six Finish

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mayhew Wants a Flying Start - and a Top-Six Finish

Article excerpt

RICHARD Mayhew is setting a top-six target for Newcastle Falcons as they kick off the new Aviva Premiership season at home to Gloucester tonight.

The Kingston Park club have not finished in the top half of the table since 2002, labouring in the bottom two in each of their last four attempts.

But a positive summer on the transfer front and a feelgood factor around the Rugby World Cup has raised hopes that better could be around the corner, with Mayhew insisting: "We want to get top six. That is our goal.

"Getting on a roll is the key, getting off to a good start and building from there. We can do it."

The Kiwi packs down on the blind-side flank for a Falcons team which hammered World Cup contenders Georgia during pre-season, director of rugby Dean Richards handing Premiership debuts to ex-All Black flyhalf Mike Delany, former England lock Mouritz Botha, Tongan prop Taione Vea and American No 8 Todd Clever.

Mayhew (pictured left) said: "The buzz here is great - the best I have known it.

"That is just a reflection on the calibre of players we have in the squad now, and the depth. It is exciting, and we have a lot of big, physical players to go along with the pace everyone knows we have.

"We have competition and real depth in the squad now, which is something we have lacked in the past.

"Looking round the room there are plenty of internationals and it keeps you Mark Smith Twitter: @markismith50 on your toes. You know you have to play well every single game because there is a long line of people waiting to take your place."

Tonight's 8pm kick-off marks the end of a fivemonth wait for a Premiership game, the World Cup forcing a six-week delay to the start of the league season.

Mayhew said: "It has been a long pre-season and the boys have played five games, but there is nothing like the proper stuff. We are desperate to get out there and get stuck into Gloucester.

"With such a long summer you can't lose sight of the fact it is all about peaking during the league games.

"We are starting to get guys back from injuries and a lot of the World Cup players TONIGHT's are now back with us. …

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