Michael Young says Newcastle Falcons can get a head start on next season by beating Sale Sharks at Kingston Park later today.
The clash of the Aviva Premiership’s two northern rivals (kick-off 3.30pm) rounds off the current campaign for Young’s side, the scrum-half insisting they can set the wheels in motion for a prosperous 2016-17 by ending on a high.
“A massive performance is needed against Sale because it gives us something to build from over the summer,” said the 27-year-old, who has featured in all but one of the Falcons’ 21 league games this term since rejoining from Bath.
“It has been a long, tough season but when we do click we are a great team. Inconsistency has been the problem over the year, and we have just not been good enough with that. As a result we have been in the relegation battle, which has thankfully been sorted now, and we have this final game now to remove the shackles and play without that hanging over us.”
Part of a side showing seven changes from the one which led 14-3 at Saracens last weekend, Young added: “Sarries are a fantastic side, and to go there and put in a fantastic 40-minute performance was pleasing.
“That is just a glimpse of what we can do with the talent we have in the squad, and if we can stick to those standards for longer during games we are going to be a much better team. Over the season as a whole we have shown in patches that we have the ability – we have turned over some big teams but we just need to do it more consistently.
“It has been a funny old season in terms of the ambitions we had about where we wanted to finish, and a poor start making that incredibly difficult, but I have absolute faith in the players and the staff here. We shouldn’t have finished where we did this season but we live to fight another day, and will put things right for next season. We want to be a top half or at least a mid-table team, and I don’t see any reason why we can’t do that.”
Confident his men can make the most of today’s opportunity against a Sale side with which they drew 15-15 in November, the former England Saxon said: “It is not a sense of relaxation. We don’t have that worry over league status hanging over our heads so in that sense the pressure is off, but as a team and as an organisation we have massively put the pressure on ourselves this week.
“We want to finish the season on a high, we want to be able to hang our hats on a good performance and it would set us off in great fashion for pre-season when we get back underway in the middle of June. Our home performances since Christmas have been much better, we take a lot of pride in that and we want to reward the fans as well as everyone at the club who has worked so hard over the entire season.
“We are all professional sportsmen and we never take the field in a half-hearted way, even when technically people might say there’s nothing to play for. It will be the same for Sale Sharks, and even the guys who are moving clubs during the off-season will want to sign off on a good note.”
Convinced he has made the right move by returning to the club whose academy he came through, Young said: “I love being home - that is how I think of this club and there have been a number of positives this season.
“A lot of boys have held their hands up and emerged as senior players over the course of the campaign, we want to build on that and really develop that core group of players. It is a massively exciting time to be involved with the club and we want to carry that into next season.”
Tickets for today’s game are available by calling 0871 226 6060 or from the ticket office on the day. Anyone buying an adult or concession ticket is entitled to two free under-11s tickets.