Skipper James Hudson is relishing the prospect of pitting his wits against some of the best players in world rugby as his unit lock horns with Toulon on Thursday night (kick-off 7.45pm).
Speaking to media manager Stewart McCullough, Hudson, 30, believes Thursday’s game is a big opportunity for the club to show what they are made of in front of a big home crowd.
“It is a big chance to show everyone what we are about,” said Hudson who has played a key role in the Falcons’ five game unbeaten run at Kingston Park.
“It is a big chance to continue our good form at home and try and extend this home unbeaten run to six games,” added Hudson.
The Falcons unbeaten run dates back to the hard-fought triumph over London Wasps with Alan Tait’s men going on to claim wins against Cardiff Blues, Lyon and Gloucester coupled with a last gasp draw with Worcester Warriors.
Sutton Coldfield-born Hudson insists the North-East and Cumbria fan-base have played their part in making Kingston Park a fortress.
He said: “The core of our fans have been incredible both home and away – at home they have been nothing short of fantastic.
“The community foundation and commercial team have done a great job in getting local clubs and schools through the gates.
“The support that we have had has been huge and very much appreciated by the whole squad.”
With the northeasterners taking the continental scene by storm the lock-forward admits it has been a demanding schedule, saying: “We’ve had a pretty tough few weeks with a lot of travelling and there have been a lot of short turnarounds between games.
“After the Toulon game we can enjoy a good weekend off before we go across to the south of France next week.”
Victory tonight will put the Falcons in a strong position in which to challenge for a place in the knockout stages when the aristocrats from the Heineken Cup join in.
“The European competition is a big deal with the fact that some of the Heineken Cup teams drop down in the knockout stages,” said Hudson who admits the Aviva Premiership is a main priority.
“The standard of the competition is very good particularly with the quality of the French and English sides.
“The competition is a healthy distraction for us and it is a big bonus to be able to out there and express ourselves.
“Wins in our first two games has put us in a really good position to progress from our group and I think these next two weeks will go a long way to deciding which team makes it through to the knockouts,” added Hudson.
Captaining the North East’s premier rugby club for the second year running Hudson is enjoying the responsibility. And with new owner Semore Kurdi coming on board in recent months Hudson sees a bright future for the club.
“Semore Kurdi has been huge for the club and the club can move forward now,” stated Hudson.
“He gives us that stability and gives us the chance to make the changes we need to make in order to get this club to where it wants to be,” he added.
Balancing his sports nutrition studies with life as an Aviva Premiership rugby player, Hudson reveals he is eying a career in sport after he hangs up the boots.
“My aim is to work in sports nutrition and work with athletes in all sports – not just rugby but right across the board,” said Hudson.
“I want to help sports men and women as much as I can and get the most out of their training,” he added.
In his spare time Hudson likes to get into the kitchen and hone his culinary skills with the outgoing forward saying: “I enjoy cooking and I do a lot of it at home which is a good way to switch off from rugby.
“You have to enjoy your food and you can’t eat boring food everyday as you won’t stick to a plan – you just have to try to make it as healthy as you can so that it ticks all the boxes.”
Tickets are still available for the Toulon game which sees the return of former Falcons players Jonny Wilkinson and Carl Hayman.
To snap up your match tickets please call 0871 226 6060 or click here to purchase online. If you buy a Falcons Half Season Ticket before Thursday you will receive a free ticket to the Toulon game.