Conor Kenny relishing second season as a Falcon
The former Connacht tight-head injured his neck during the pre-season victory at Glasgow Warriors just over a year ago, and had to wait until the last game of the season to make his Gallagher Premiership debut at Northampton Saints.
Having turned 26 last week, the powerful scrummager cannot wait to get going after taking a full part during the summer’s preparations.
“It was a tough first year for me,” said Kenny, reflecting on his maiden campaign on Tyneside.
“Things were obviously stressful in terms of getting injured in my first game and missing most of the season, but it was great to get my debut at the end of the year after all the work that had gone in behind the scenes.
“I’m looking forward to this season now, and hopefully I can get a good bit of game time. It’s all about staying fit and healthy, but I’m in a good place now and really excited about the year ahead with all the boys.”
Keen to impress the Kingston Park faithful, the former Ireland Under-20s international said: “I guess some of the supporters might be thinking of me as a bit of a new signing because they’ve not seen a lot of me on the field.
“I’ve been working hard to get back, though, and I’m determined to show them what I can offer.
“Despite all the time out with injury last season I’ve really enjoyed being at the club, and living in Newcastle. The people here are so easy to get along with, and for such a big place it feels so small. That’s quite nice for me because of where I come from back in Ireland, and I wouldn’t generally be a fan of massive cities.”
Part of the group which has been training at Grainger Park Boxing Club as part of the Falcons’ pre-season preparation, Kenny insisted: “The boxing has been fun, to be honest.
“The first week we did it our shoulders were burning, but it’s been nice to get used to it and get a bit more technique going. I used to box a bit back in Ireland when I was younger, and it’s been nice getting back into it.
“Anything that breaks up the routine of being in the gym or running in straight lines is great during pre-season – especially for us big boys!
“To be fair to the Falcons coaches they’re good at varying things to make sure the guys are mentally switched on, and boxing is a good one because it balances intense periods of hard work with little blocks of rest time, like you’d have in a game.
“Pre-season is never easy for anyone, but for the bigger lads we just have to work that little bit harder when it comes to the running and general fitness stuff. You have to dig deep and just go for it, because we’re professional players at the end of the day.”
Echoing the mood of positivity around the Falcons with just more than a month until the Gallagher Premiership opener at home to Harlequins on Saturday September 10, Kenny is forecasting a strong showing from the league’s most northerly club.
“This year we’re a lot more focused on ourselves, and thinking about what we can do rather than what we can’t,” he said.
“We saw in bursts last season what we’re capable of, and when we’re on top of our game we can beat anyone. It’s about having the belief and really nailing our detail, and with the refresh we’ve seen to the coaching team it feels like the guys are really on top of things.
“It’s just small things which will make a big difference, and I really feel like this is going to be a good year for the Falcons.”
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