Ahead of Sunday's Aviva Premiership showdown with London Wasps, flanker Will Welch took time out after training this week to give his thought on the season so far.
Signing professional forms with the Falcons in 2009 after progressing through the club’s successful academy system, Welch, 21, has blossomed into a solid Premiership player.
The Newcastle-born forward, who has represented England at under-18s, 19s and 20s level made his debut for the Kingston Park outfit in 2008 against Newport Gwent Dragons in the Anglo/Welsh Cup.
And the former Royal Grammar School pupil has never looked back, earning himself a new deal last term following a string of impressive performances in Newcastle black.
Now in his third campaign as a professional, Welch admits he has been pleased with his form this season but insists he needs to continue the hard work to hold down a regular first team berth. According to Opta stats Welch made the most tackles at London Irish last week and never missed a tackle.
“I think my season has gone pretty well and I am certainly feeling much more confident – getting my hands on the ball a lot more,” said Welch, who was upbeat after a rigorous training session.
“I put a lot of work in over pre-season and I am seeing the benefits of this. I worked hard in the gym to put on some size which has given me more confidence in terms of my ball carrying so I think my season has gone well so far.
“I need to keep my head down and keep improving my game as there is a lot of competition for places at the club. I was a bit lucky in some respects that Redford Pennycook had an injury and I got my chance to start.
“I am just taking each game as it comes and I’m not resting on my laurels. Every game that I play I know I have to be on top of my game because there is good competition for places here.
“I have not set myself any personal targets just yet. I don’t like to look too far forward as I feel it detracts away from what you are trying to achieve at the time.
“I like to set myself targets for each game and if it goes well I will want to improve on that for the next game,” added Welch.
Last week Welch locked horns with his former housemate Alex Gray, who moved to London Irish during the off-season. Gray played the full 80 minutes for Irish with the Newcastle No.7 admitting it was a tasty encounter against his opposite number.
He said: “It was a good challenge playing against Shaggy [Alex Gray] and it was probably not as friendly as I thought it might be but it is always fun playing against one of your good mates.
“I did get my hands on him a couple of times but he managed to get away!”
This weekend’s visitors Wasps make the trip to Tyneside on the back of a 21-11 defeat to Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park. Despite defeat to their Devon counterparts, Dai Young’s unit have made a steady start to the campaign and occupy eighth place with nine points to their name.
Welch recognises the qualities possessed by the Londoners and states the Falcons must play intelligent rugby if they are to outplay their opponents.
“They have made a good start to the season and they have a hard defence which is very organised. We need to be more direct against Wasps as they are excellent out wide and they will pick you off if you are not careful.
“We just need to get at them far more than we have in previous games this season,” added Welch.
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Follow Will Welch on Twitter @willWelch2