Blamire excited by upcoming challenges

Tuesday 25 January 2022 Written by: Adam

“I was about 15 or 16 when I came over for my first Falcons academy session, and I played mainly rugby league at the time,” says the man who has scored six tries in his five England caps, having made his international debut last summer.

“It’s a long old drive from West Cumbria to Newcastle, a good two hours each way, and I just remember thinking ‘I hate this, I don’t want to go back’ as I was sat in the car on the way home.

“I don’t know why I was feeling that way, to be honest. I think it’s because I was playing mainly rugby league from the age of around six, I was from a big rugby league town and I didn’t really understand too much about rugby union at that stage.

“I have to be totally honest in saying I didn’t enjoy those first few sessions. It’s nothing against the club – I was just learning the game, but I’m glad that my dad convinced me to stick with it.

“Rugby union really grew on me, to the point where I can’t imagine playing rugby league now. I started enjoying it more and more, and the Falcons academy coaches Jimmy Ponton and Mark Laycock were really good in terms of how they developed me as a player.”

Moving away from home at the age of 16 to join the Falcons’ ACE scheme at Gosforth Academy, Blamire played in the national ACE final before turning professional at the end of his two-year programme.

Scoring on his Falcons first team debut away to Gloucester in 2019, Newcastle will be up against the same opposition on Saturday when the Cherry and Whites visit Kingston Park Stadium – the Falcons keen to overturn the nine-point loss they suffered at Kingsholm in October.

“I came on from the bench in the away game, and it was one of those frustrating ones,” said Blamire, who started in Newcastle’s last-minute victory away to Biarritz just over a week ago.

“We’ve definitely got a point to prove against Gloucester, and then obviously just looking to improve a lot after our last home game against Northampton.

“We’ve had a talk as a group to sort out the things that went wrong, and we’ll see a change in how we play as a result of it. There were glimpses of it out in Biarritz, but we’ll keep getting better and better as we put those plans into action in the coming weeks.

“In terms of the Biarritz game, it’s always a great experience playing out in France, and I’ve enjoyed it every time I’ve been out there.

“It was great for the boys to get that win, even if we left it a bit late with the last-minute try, and we’re just looking to push on now from there. We did make it hard for ourselves but we still won in the end, which I think says a lot about the lads.”

Forming part of the England squad training in Brighton this week as part of their Six Nations preparation, the hooker was among the many candidates awaiting news as to whether or not he would be involved, with confirmation of his call-up being followed by a steady stream of messages.

“The players find out in a whatsapp group just before it gets announced to the public, and it’s just an unreal feeling when you get that notification,” he revealed.

“It’s mental, really, just to think you’re involved in something like that. You do get quite a few messages and it’s sometimes hard getting back to everyone, but at the same time it’s nice to know that people are happy for you. I definitely appreciate it.”

Looking forward to what he hopes will be his first taste of Six Nations rugby, the hooker admits it was not a competition he particularly followed during his youth.

“I hadn’t seen the Six Nations until I was about 15 or 16, if I’m totally honest,” he said.

“I was just into rugby league when I was a kid, and didn’t watch union at all. I’ve obviously grown to understand and enjoy the game more as I’ve started playing, but yeah, it’s not something I was ever into when I was growing up.

“It’s nice now to have a bit of an idea of what it’s going to be like going into an England camp, but at the same time the whole Six Nations thing is new to me.

“I’m really looking forward to it and hopefully my time during the summer and the autumn tests will help me to have that understanding around how things work, but I’m obviously still pretty new to it all and would never take it for granted being in that environment.”

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