Wednesday 21 August 2013 Written by: Adam

With all of their new recruits on parade, ten in all, the Falcons can look to a bright future under the leadership of director of rugby Dean Richards.

Bath Rugby are first up for the men in black on the opening weekend of the Premiership, and Richards believes his current crop of players has what it takes to challenge the big boys.

“I think we’ve got a far more balanced side than last year and certainly the year before that,” Richards told the gathering media.

“We now have a good blend of youth and experience, and what we need to do is to have a conveyor belt of youth coming through,” he added.

Earlier this week it was announced that Will Welch would continue in his role as captain, a responsibility that the former RGS pupil is relishing.

The 23-year-old said: “I really enjoyed the captaincy last season in the Championship, and I think I learned a lot from that experience, especially from the play-offs as there was a lot of pressure and expectancy on us to go back up to the Premiership.

“I’m really proud to have the opportunity to lead this group of players in the Premiership and hopefully we will be successful.”

From one man maturing as a leader both on and off the field to another who has a rugby CV to envy most – Mike Blair will be hoping his international experience and know how will come to the fore this campaign.

The crafty No.9, who is Scotland’s most capped scrum-half ever, insists it is crucial to get points on the board early on in the season.

Blair said: “With the squad that we’ve got here I think it’s a club that can win a lot of games. We need to get some momentum going during the early part of the season, and get some wins and points on the board.

“That will hopefully take the pressure off and then we will see some good rugby.”

The Falcons welcome RaboDirect Pro 12 outfit Connacht to Kingston Park this Saturday for their penultimate pre-season friendly before the showdown with Bath on Friday 6 September.

Tickets are available for the Connacht game by calling the Falcons Ticket Hotline on 0871 226 6060 or click here to purchase online.