Experienced second-row Scott MacLeod believes his year’s spell with Japanese side Kobe Steelers has served him well ahead of his move to the Falcons.
The 33-year-old, who has 23 Scottish caps to his name, admits he has gained invaluable life experience from his time in the Far East but insists the time was right to make the switch to the North East.
Despite making an impact for the Steelers, his stint in the Land of the Rising Sun was hampered by the overseas rule which stipulates only two foreign players can play at any one time.
That coupled with his desire to play for the ambitious Falcons played a key role in his decision making.
“Japan was a great place to live and it gave me some good life experience,” said Hawick-born MacLeod.
“It was one of the best things that I have done but it was the rugby side of things that I found difficult due to the fact that club’s could only play two foreigners at any one time.
“It was a case of looking at myself and saying am I happy to just sit around and enjoy the lifestyle. I still feel like I have a lot to give and I want to strive to be a better rugby player with the Falcons.
“It has always been my goal to play in the Aviva Premiership and the Falcons is a club with a lot of tradition. I know people like Gary Armstrong, Doddie Weir, Alan Tait and George Graham have all played for the club.
“The Falcons was a club that I really wanted to join and when I came back from Japan I wanted to get my children settled.”
Now well into his second week of pre-season training, the 6ft 6” lynchpin is bursting at the seams to pull on the Falcons jersey and strut his stuff on the hallow Kingston Park turf.
He said: “I just want to be competitive and as long as I get a fair crack of things that is all I can ask for – what will be will be.
“I certainly want to be playing so I will knuckle down and hopefully get in the team. I feel fresh and my body feels good so I am ready to rumble.”
The former Edinburgh man joins fellow Scots Ally Hogg, Euan Murray, Grant Shiells and Rory Lawson on Tyneside with MacLeod tipping the latter to be a hit with fans at Kingston Park.
“Rory’s a good boy and a very good leader,” said MacLeod.
“He is obviously in a highly competitive position in the Scotland team with Chris Cussiter and Mike Blair both vying for a place in the side but he is a great player who really leads by example.
“He will certainly be a good asset to the Falcons.”
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