Stevenson back at full speed for 2022-23

Wednesday 3 August 2022

Ben Stevenson is putting an injury-affected season behind him as the Newcastle Falcons flyer looks forward with optimism to the 2022-23 campaign.

The Teesside flyer has scored 18 tries in his 49 appearances for the club, and is relishing the Falcons’ attacking outlook with the new Gallagher Premiership season just more than a month away.

“We haven’t just done straight-line running or been getting beasted non-stop in the gym – there’s been a rugby ball out from pretty much day one and plenty of game-relevant stuff,” said the man who turned 24 a fortnight ago.

“Pre-season isn’t something most people enjoy doing, but you feel good after it and you know it needs to be done. With not having to play on a weekend you can get more done during the week, and the boys are looking in good nick.

“It’s generally skill-related as well as the strength and conditioning side, and I think that’s important just to keep the lads interested and motivated.”

Reporting a clean bill of health, Stevenson added: “I’m back fully fit now, and keen to get going again.

“I missed quite a bit of last season with my ankle ligaments, which were operated on, and it was something like 16 weeks I had out with that one. But that’s all behind me now - I feel good and I’m enjoying being in the thick of things again.

“The feeling around the club is really good at the moment.

“We’ve had a bit of a re-set on the coaching side with Dave Walder taking overall charge, and Mark Wilson coming back into the club. Wils brings a lot of energy and is really enthusiastic about his coaching, and then on the attack side we’ve got Mark Laycock leading on things.”

With club legend Wilson adding his trademark intensity and focus as a coach, Stevenson said: “It hasn’t felt that unusual having Wils on the management team rather than as a team-mate, because even when he was playing here he still had that leadership role.

“This is basically just an extension of that, and training has been really good under the entire coaching team.”

Determined to improve during the coming campaign, he added: “We’ll be a different team this season, both in defence and attack.

“Our defence will be more connected and we’ll be more expansive when we have the ball. We all hope our fans respond to the way we’re going to try and play the game, and as an outside back it’s obviously exciting to be getting the ball in your hands a bit more.

“The squad’s looking really good in terms of how we’re preparing, and as well as having a pretty settled core of guys we’ve also been impressed with what the new lads have added.

“Josh Barton at scrum-half is someone who has come in and looked sharp, Imi [Vereime Qorowale] is a big boy in the outside backs and it will be good to see what Josh Thomas can do.

“With the ability we’ve got and the attacking way that we’re looking to play I think we’ll surprise a lot of people. We’ve got a lot of tries in us, and the boys are really enjoying the way things are going here at the moment.”

Newcastle Falcons have two pre-season friendlies, away to Leicester Tigers on Friday August 26 and away to Doncaster Knights on Friday September 2, before the Gallagher Premiership season starts at home to Harlequins on Saturday September 10.

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