Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mermoz Is Expecting Tough Test for Falcons in France

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mermoz Is Expecting Tough Test for Falcons in France

Article excerpt

MAXIME Mermoz will be on familiar ground on Saturday when his Newcastle Falcons side runs out against Bordeaux-Begles at Stade Chaban-Delmas, with the experienced Frenchman expecting a high-tempo European Challenge Cup encounter.

Making his competitive debut in last weekend's 32-27 home triumph over the Dragons, Mermoz has been able to give Newcastle the inside track on a Bordeaux side currently top of the Falcons' group after a 57-17 triumph over Enisei-STM.

"Bordeaux are quite similar to Newcastle in a way," said the twotime European Champions Cup winner who has three French league winner's medals from his time at Toulon, Perpignan and Toulouse.

"They don't have too many big boys but have a lot of speed. They play as a team and have a lot of confidence, they score plenty of points and even in Siberia last week they put up a big total. For me they're one of the best teams in the Top 14."

Giving his team-mates an idea of what they can expect at Stade Chaban-Delmas, Mermoz added: "The stadium over there is amazing.

"It's very big with being a former soccer stadium but the stands are quite a way back from the pitch, and that's the only thing I don't like.

"We have to expect to sweat a lot because it's hot there, but I expect a good game because both teams want to play attacking rugby and the Challenge Cup is a competition in which ambition is rewarded."

Playing down the fact that Saturday's fixture represents a return to his homeland, Mermoz said: "Going back to France isn't a particularly big moment for me, because that's not why I came to Newcastle.

"It's good to be involved in the game and to be playing for the Falcons, but I came to England to play against English teams. Those experiences are the ones I will really regard as special, because with the best will in the world I have already played many times in Bordeaux and I know what it's about.

"It was very exciting to play last week against the Dragons and it's always good to wear the jersey. …

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