Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Tyneside's Prodigal Son Aims to Open Floodgates of Success; HOME TEAM RETURN FOR TOBY

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Tyneside's Prodigal Son Aims to Open Floodgates of Success; HOME TEAM RETURN FOR TOBY

Article excerpt

Byline: SEAN MCCORMICK Sports writer @S_McCormick95

IT HAS been nine years since Toby Flood last wore the Newcastle Falcons jersey.

During his time away he has won three Premiership titles and one Anglo-Welsh Cup with Leicester Tigers, as well as spending three years playing Top 14 rugby with French side Toulouse.

Meanwhile, the Falcons flirted with relegation for three seasons, eventually suffering the drop in 2012, before immediately returning to the top flight by winning the Championship the following season, and remaining there since. The 60-cap England fly-half has seen a lot in the game since graduating from the Falcons' academy side in 2004 and, of course, was part of the England side which reached the Rugby World Cup final in 2007.

And while he admits he is taking time to reacclimatise to his native North East weather, Flood insists it was an easy decision to ditch the sunnier climes of the south of France for the familiarity of a return to Kingston Park.

"It was an easy decision to come back, in all honesty," said the 31-year-old.

"It's good to be back and, although nothing's changed on the face of things, under the surface the club has a positive mindset and is moving in the right direction.

Toby Flood is swapping Toulouse for Tyneside "It is nice (to have a bit of familiarity).

"Had I signed for someone else it would have been another massive learning curve. Learning the club, learning the city, thinking about where I should live, what should I be doing, so it is nice to have that familiarity of coming back to Newcastle.

"All those things can hang over you and that uncertainty can creep into the season, so it has been a lot easier in terms of already having that leadin, which is great."

For years, the Falcons were simply doing enough to keep their heads above water.

Following their return to the Premiership they finished 11th in three successive seasons, but last term they finally bucked that trend.

The Falcons ensured they finished the season in eighth place after 10 wins in 22 games, and, had results gone their way on the final day of the season, they would have entered a play-off tournament with Stade Francais, Connacht and Cardiff Blues to qualify for the European Champions Cup.

Nevertheless, while Flood acknowledges the team's achievements last season, he insists it counts for nothing if they don't build on that success.

"A good half of the season doesn't mean that you are the best team in the world, it just means you had a good finish to the season," added Flood. …

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