Experienced coach John Wells has backed new captain Will Welch to be a hit with fans across the region as the Falcons gear up for a new era under the stewardship of incoming boss Dean Richards.
Newcastle-born Welch was handed the captain’s armband yesterday, with the 22-year-old former Royal Grammar School pupil enjoying the adulation of supporters on the club’s official Facebook and Twitter pages.
And Wells, who made the switch to Kingston Park back in January following six years with England, believes Welch was the ideal candidate.
“Will’s a tough cookie and he is continuing to grow as player,” said Wells.
“I am delighted for him and I am delighted for the club because they are in a position where they can appoint a local guy who can identify with the area.
“He is only 22 and he knows that he is yet to reach his potential as a player, but his will, desire and enthusiasm will rub off on the players.
“That is the main reason why the club has appointed him,” added Wells.
In typically relaxed fashion, Wells was taking time out from his busy schedule first thing this morning to give his take on life at Kingston Park as well as revealing his plans to settle down in the North East.
Despite tasting relegation to the Championship, the Yorkshireman insists the club is in a healthy state with what he labels a ‘heavyweight backroom staff’ at its disposal.
“The club has done a brilliant job in recognising some of the issues from last year and in doing so have put in place a heavyweight backroom staff, which not only has Premiership experience but international experience too,” said Wells.
He added: “We are all experienced guys having all been around the block and even kicked around the block at times.
“We know what pressure is about and I am really excited about the future for this club. Steady [Graham Steadman] has been absolutely brilliant to work with and he has got his way of doing things as has Kitty [Calum MacRae].
“They are both incredibly enthusiastic guys who want the best for the club and that is great to have in a coaching group.”
The Falcons currently await the arrival of New Zealander Peter Russell after it was confirmed last month that the former Hawke’s Bay coach had been appointed Falcons head coach.
Russell is due to arrive in the country once the relevant paperwork is completed, and Wells is relishing the prospect of working alongside the former Wellington player.
He said: “We have been skyping Peter once or twice a week on a regular basis for the last eight weeks are we are all excited about what he will bring to the table when he gets over here.
“We have a pretty good idea of what to expect from our conversations. We kind of knew that there would be headaches in getting him over here but the way our training programme is structured there is plenty of time available for Peter to work when he gets here ahead of the new season.”
As an energized Falcons outfit embark on an exciting phase in its history, the former Leicester man has called on fans to embrace the ‘Richards Revolution’ and back the promotion charge.
“There is no doubt that as the season wore on the fans saw that the team was prepared to give it their all in pursuit of obtaining a win and you could sense the enthusiasm on the terraces,” said Wells, who admits to been struck by the sheer passion for sport in the North East.
“I think we have got to do not only that this year but try and provide them with a style of rugby that is not only successful and winning games, but also to entertain fans as well.
“There is a fine balance between entertainment and winning, and I think the vast majority of fans want to see a side that wins and are entertained in every minute of the game.
“We have got to be pragmatic as a side about what we can do and how we can achieve our objective, but at the same time we know that people want to support good rugby and winning rugby – the two go hand in hand,” added Wells.
Now into the fifth week of pre-season, Wells has underlined his commitment to the Falcons cause by setting up home in the North East.
“I have bought somewhere up here so I have every intension of living up here on a permanent basis and I think it is really important for someone who wants to do the best for the club that you actually embrace what the job is about,” said Wells.
“The way things are working at the moment are that I come up here on Sunday night and I go back home on Friday night. I can afford to that in the pre-season phase but I think once we get into games then I will have to be more flexible.
“When I was with England I would go 26 or 28 weeks a year without seeing my family at times so the fact that I am up here and my family are elsewhere at the moment is not an issue.
“I am hoping in time that they are in a position to come and join me up here – it is just a schooling issue at the moment,” he added.
We will hear more from Wells as the week progresses.