Falcons back row forward Mark Wilson is raring to go ahead of Saturday's Aviva Premiership Rugby showdown against Northampton Saints at Franklin's Gardens in front of the ESPN cameras.The uncompromising, tough tackling Cumbrian has made an immediate impact in the colours of the Falcons since putting pen to paper on his first professional contract in the summer.
And Wilson, who missed a large chunk of preseason due to a groin injury, has featured in the Falcons’ last four games in all competitions including a 70-minute stint against Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop.
He said: “I wasn’t expecting to be involved as much as I have been, especially when I’ve only just come back from injury.
“I think it was a blessing in disguise and it gave me a bit of a rest from last season which was a very long tough campaign. The rest has definitely done me good and I feel fresh and raring to go. I feel good and as long as things keep going in the right direction I’ll keep getting some first team action in the coming weeks.”
Wilson’s fine form has kept the likes of former New Zealand sevens player Brent Wilson on the bench, but the Cumbrian understands the challenge ahead.
“Brent’s a class player and I’ve been surprised to get as much action as what I’ve already had, but the way Alan Tait operates is that if you’re working hard and playing well you will get your chance. The ethos at the club at the minute is that you get rewarded for your hard work by playing regular rugby. I had a couple of decent run outs in the A League and I was rewarded with a start. Rugby is all about opportunities and if you get a chance you’ve got to take it. Against Harlequins Will Welch got injured and I ended up getting 70 minutes on the field,” he added.
The 21-year-old Kendal-born forward is yet another young prodigy off the Falcons’ production line to be staking a claim for a regular first team berth. After a string of impressive performances for the Falcons Development Team, Wilson was handed his Premiership debut during Newcastle’s 23-12 loss against Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop back in October. Now the ambitious Wilson hopes for a big performance against the Saints.
“Everyone knows that Northampton away will be a massive game and Franklin’s Gardens is a very hard place to go. I was lucky enough to play there in the Development Team earlier on in the season, and even when you go down there on a Monday night it’s intimidating never mind on a Saturday when they’ve got their stands packed. They’ve got some class acts in there like Phil Dowson, and it will be a good test to give them a battle up front,” he added.
Following the heartbreak of a last gasp defeat against Saracens at Kingston Park last week, Wilson insists the results will come.
He added: “When we came back into training it was important that we moved on and kept the positive vibe around the training ground. The banter is still there and we’re working very hard to get things right on the pitch. I think the results are going to come.”
Wilson acknowledges his side must tighten up on their discipline if they are to move up the Aviva Premiership Rugby table.
“We’ve conceded some silly penalties so I can see where the criticism has come from in terms of that aspect of our game. We’ll improve in that area and hopefully dominate some times. Muzza [Paul Moriarty] was saying yesterday that we’ve got the second best scrum in the league and the fourth best line-out in the league, so our set pieces are going well.
“Bobby [Rob Vickers] tries to reiterate as much as he can after sessions that we’ve got to stop giving teams a head start. Obviously against Saracens last Friday we didn’t concede any tries and they never looked like scoring, but we gave away 15 points so when we start sorting out our discipline we will start to give some sides a scare. Down at Harlequins there were a couple of incidents there when we just shot ourselves in the foot,” added Wilson.