Full-blooded centre James Fitzpatrick is relishing the competition for places ahead of the 2012-13 campaign under the stewardship of incoming boss Dean Richards.
The 24-year-old Shieldsman, who kicked-off his fitness regime last month in front of the Falcons TV cameras, has been joined at Kingston Park by fellow centres Andrew Higgins, Alex Crockett and Tane Tu’ipulotu in recent weeks.
“It is good to have a bit of competition as with competition it means you can really push yourself to earn a place in the side,” said Fitzpatrick.
“I played with Tane in my first year at the club and I learnt a lot from him – he is an experienced centre and he can only help improve my game,” he added.
Making 25 appearances for the northeasterners last term, Fitzpatrick dazzled fans with his hard-hitting spurts and robust tackles.
It was his fine form at the back end of last season that earned him the plaudits from ESPN, who awarded him the man of the match champagne following the 9-9 humdinger with Harlequins.
Now Fitzpatrick insists he must impress in training if he is to merit his place in the starting XV, saying: “You have got to earn your place in the side and I cannot expect to be in the side just because I am a local lad.
“It is now just a case of me working hard throughout pre-season and see what happens in August when we begin our pre-season friendlies.”
In keeping with the modern day rugby player Fitzpatrick hit the ground running with his own fitness regime ahead of schedule.
Fitzpatrick reveals training has been a mixture of gym sessions and skills work in the first couple of weeks but admits things are really starting to hot up.
He said: “I wanted to hit pre-season running instead of sitting about and putting weight on – I just wanted to keep myself ticking over and I felt good going into my first week of pre-season.
“We have been doing a lot of skills and a lot of gym work so we are certainly getting a lot of good quality work done.
“It is now the third week of pre-season and sessions have really stepped up. We are getting our hands on the ball and doing more game related drills.
“I am looking forward to Dean Richards coming in and we will have to see what he brings to the table – there are some exciting times ahead.”
The Falcons kick-off their pre-season campaign with a festival of rugby on Saturday 11 August with a triple header taking place at Kingston Park.
Doncaster Knights and Leeds Carnegie will lock horns with the North East outfit either side of Consett Rugby’s clash with Chicago side Illinois Tornados.
On Friday 17 August the Falcons host Heineken Cup semi-finalists Edinburgh (kick-off 7.45pm).
Tickets for the home friendlies are priced at £10 adults and £5 juniors (under-16s) and are available by calling the Falcons Ticket Hotline on 0871 226 6060 or click here to purchase online.
Alternatively you can call into the Kingston Park box office during office hours.
Season Ticket Holders for the 2012-13 campaign can enjoy these fixtures free of charge as both are included in the Season Ticket package.
To snap up your 2012-13 Season Ticket please call 0871 226 6060 or click here now!