New skipper Will Welch is excited at the prospect of leading his charges out for this Saturday’s festival of rugby (kick-off 1pm).
Newcastle-born Welch, 22, was handed the captain’s armband last month and will feature this Saturday as the Falcons host Doncaster Knights and Leeds Carnegie either side of Consett Rugby’s duel with touring side Illinois Tornados.
And the academy product, who scooped both the Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season awards last term, insists it is important his unit hit the ground running.
“We have a great opportunity to really put a marker down at Bristol in our first game of the season, so it is important that we get some good wins under our belt in the next few warm-up matches,” said the agile flanker.
“It is a really exciting time for the club at the moment with the new-look coaching team and some great signings coming into the squad.
“Obviously we are disappointed to have been relegated but we are looking forward to rising to the challenge of Championship rugby, and hopefully we can make a quick return to the Premiership,” added Welch.
Kicking off their pre-season programme with a game against Doncaster at 1pm followed by Leeds at 5.30pm, the northeasterners are set to get their first taste of Championship rugby.
Welch said: “I am sure that this weekend will show how tough and exciting it is going to be next season and as a squad we cannot wait to get started.
“We are all aware of how tough it is going to be this season, but I am more than confident that we have got a squad capable of getting this club back up to the Premiership where it belongs.”
As the Kingston Park outfit prepare to embark on an exciting new era under incoming boss Dean Richards, Welch admits it will be a proud moment to lead his side out for the first time.
Praising the loyal Falcons fan-base, Welch added: “As always I am sure the support will be fantastic this afternoon and I am proud to be given the opportunity to skipper the club I supported as a boy.
“I was absolutely delighted to be asked to be captain and I will do my very best to lead a great bunch of boys to a Championship winning season.
“I have learnt a hell of a lot from Huddo [James Hudson] in the past couple of seasons, who is a great leader. If I can emulate the way he led the team then I am sure that I will be doing a good job.”
The former Royal Grammar School pupil will play in one of the two Falcons sides on show this weekend.
Tickets are still available for the festival by calling the Falcons Ticket Hotline on 0871 226 6060 or click here to purchase online.