Wednesday 10 April 2013 Written by: Adam

The 23-year-old academy product pinned his colours to the Kingston Park club following last weekend’s 72-17 crushing of Nottingham Rugby in the British and Irish Cup.

Signing on the dotted line alongside fellow northeasterner Sean Tomes, who signed a one-year extension, Welch is delighted with the progress that Newcastle is making at present.

“There are some really exciting times ahead for rugby in the region as a whole with the ambition of the club and where we want to go, and that comes from the playing squad and the backroom staff,” Welch told Falcons TV.

And the Newcastle-born flanker admits director of rugby Dean Richards has had a significant impact on his development as Falcons skipper.

Pulling on the captains armband for the first time ahead of this campaign, the former RGS pupil said: “Dean [Richards] has been a big influence on my career this season, as have all the coaches here, and they let us know in no uncertain terms what they expect of us as a team.

> “They are always there to help especially given that I am new to the
> captaincy this year – it also helps having experienced players around
> me too.”

Prior to Welch and Tomes pledging their future to Newcastle, the club announced that six of its promising academy prodigies had signed professional contracts.

Welch said: “To get the young lads to commit their future to the club is massive, and at the moment we are trying to establish the academy system, making sure that we bring through our home-grown talent.

“Newcastle has been good for that in the past.”

To watch Welch’s exclusive interview with Falcons TV please **click here.**