Graham: Rotation policy has maintained freshness
The Jersey old boy has not featured since being man of the match in his team’s 46-7 home win over Coventry on November 17, but could come back into contention when his old team visits Kingston Park Stadium for on Saturday.
The 2pm Championship Cup kick-off sees the Falcons playing for top seeding having already secured a home quarter-final, Newcastle looking to defeat Jersey for the third time this season.
“I think the squad rotation is really healthy for the players because it has been a long, tough pre-season, and some of the boys who had played a lot of rugby needed that little break,” said Graham, who has made 52 appearances in his two and a half seasons since joining from the Channel Island club.
“It has helped clear up a few sore spots and niggles, it has given game time to lads who needed it and it just means the guys in general are where they need to be in terms of that balance between freshness and match sharpness.”
Asked whether or not playing against the same team three times in as many months is a help or hindrance, Graham said: “I don’t know, to be honest – I guess you could argue both ways.
“On the one hand it means we know exactly what we can expect from them, a lot of the analysis work is already in our heads and we’re freed up in that sense, but on the same token they’ll be saying similar about us.
“Having beaten them twice we’ve proved we can do it, but then arguing the other way there’ll be a big emphasis from them on wanting to avoid three in a row. They’ll definitely bring their A-game and be looking to take a scalp, and whichever way you look at things it will be a tough game for us.
“Jersey aren’t coming here to roll over, they’re a contending team in both the league and the cup and they can come here and put us to the sword if we’re not switched on.”
Admitting there is still more to come from the Falcons despite having won all 11 of their matches to date, the back-rower added: “We’re not quite purring but we’re still regularly putting 40-odd points on teams, and it’s not a bad position to be in when you consider there’s still so much room for improvement.
“We’ve got one goal this season and that’s to get back into the Premiership, and when things start to click we’ll really start putting on some bigger scores.
“The closest we’ve come is probably the Coventry game a few weeks ago when we produced a big performance against a team who were second in the league that weekend, and those are the kinds of levels we have to be aiming for on a more regular basis.”
That game saw Graham packing down at No 8 rather than his more familiar position of flanker, the Scotland international saying: “I enjoyed playing at 8, and it was nice to get man of the match as well.
“I’ll play anywhere as long as I get some game time, but it was a good experience and happily go there again if I’m needed.”
Determined to raise the bar higher going into the Christmas period and beyond, he added: “If we’re absolutely on top of our game then I don’t think anybody gets close to us.
“I’m not saying that with any arrogance – we’ve just got to make sure we’re on the money, and if we are then I’d back us against anyone.
“After this game we have Ealing away on December 21, and a lot of people are saying they’re our biggest threat in the league.
“I can see why they’d say that because Ealing have got a good side – they’ve lost one and drawn one already whereas we’re unbeaten – but all we’re thinking about for the time being is beating Jersey on Saturday.”
Tickets for Saturday’s 2pm kick-off are available by [**clicking here**], calling 0871 226 6060 or from Kingston Park Stadium in person.