League great Sean Long enjoys day with the Falcons
The St Helens legend has dipped his toes into union waters during a stint at fellow Premiership club Harlequins, and despite now being back in the 13-man code he was keen to take up the offer to spend a day on Tyneside.
“I like going to a lot of different clubs across different sports, just seeing if I can pick anything up,” said Long, who was a Super League, Challenge Cup and World Club Challenge winner in a glittering career which saw him being capped by England and Great Britain.
“Every team is different so there are always things you can learn, and through working with Newcastle’s head coach Alex Codling at Harlequins I’ve already got that connection with him. He invited me to come up and spend the day here, and I know one or two of the boys like Tom Penny from his time down at Quins.
“I enjoyed the day at Kingston Park, and it’s always useful just chatting to other coaches to see if you can pick anything up or maybe pass on one or two little things of my own. I’m always up for doing that, and as they say, you’re never too old to learn.”
Currently based in Yorkshire as he leads Featherstone Rovers’ push for promotion into rugby league’s top-flight, Long said: “I loved my time in rugby union down at Harlequins.
“It was unfortunate that Covid hit around that time and then Leeds Rhinos offered me a role back up north, and I’ve kind of stayed up there since then. But I definitely enjoyed my spell with Harlequins, just as I am now with Featherstone back in rugby league.
“It’s my first head coach’s job, we’re up at the top of the Championship and have lost only once this season, so we’re in a good spot despite having a lot of work still to do.
“We’d love to push for promotion into Super League, and if I can improve my coaching even a tiny bit by going away and seeing environments like today up at Newcastle Falcons then I’ll make sure I take that opportunity.”
Predicting a strong season for the Falcons on the evidence of Friday’s sessions, he said: “I’m back working in rugby league now but there are always things you can pick up from rugby union, just as there is the other way round.
“I’m always open to sharing ideas with people, and it’s a good group up at Newcastle. Codders is a very energetic head coach who is good with the lads – he’s full of ideas and his attention to detail is really good.
“I expect he’ll do well with Newcastle this year, and on the evidence of today he’s got a good group of lads. They worked hard, they were enthusiastic and I think they’ll surprise a lot of people.”