‘Older head’ Tom Penny enthused for new season

Wednesday 28 June 2023 Written by: Adam

Now aged 28 and with 86 first team appearances under his belt, the versatile Northumbrian is optimistic about what lies ahead for the club as he gets stuck into his third week of pre-season training.

“There’s been a big changeover and a lot of senior guys have left, which is always sad, but times go on and we’ve got some new guys coming in who are putting everyone through their paces,” said Penny, who has thrived at full-back and centre during his second spell at Kingston Park.

“I’m one of the older heads now, which is a bit of a change in dynamic, but I’m enjoying it. We’ve got a talented, hard-working group and we all know there’s a lot of work still to be done between now and where we want to get to.

“I’ve been around for a little while now, even if I’ve not necessarily played as many games as I’d have wanted to. I’ve worked with a lot of different personalities and in a lot of different changing rooms, and when you see the youngsters coming in I’m definitely one of the oldest backs knocking around.

“It’s come to that point in my career but I’m really enjoying it, and having that youthful exuberance around you helps keep you young.”

Typically self-deprecating when asked how pre-seasons have evolved during his decade as a professional, Penny said: “Historically I’ve been pretty good at avoiding them by being injured, but I’ve not been so lucky this year!

“All joking aside, it’s been good. We’ve been building nicely, It’s obviously a long one with the Rugby World Cup this year but the intensity is gradually ramping up and we’re getting through the work.

“It’s a strange one because it’s such a long pre-season, so there’s a situation of not wanting to get burnt out too soon.

“It’s obviously a balance between that and doing the work you need to do, and the coaching staff so far have been really good in terms of managing the load. We’ll have a week off following our first four-week block, then another four in and another week off.

“From there we’re basically into the season proper, but the coaches have been clever in terms of when they’ve drip-fed certain bits of content into everything else we’re doing. You want to keep the boys interested when it’s such a long summer, and they’re doing a good job of achieving that.

“The crux of any pre-season is based around hard work and instilling new ideas. They’re creeping in as the days and weeks go on, and it’s exciting to be part of.”

Working under new head coach Alex Codling and with a former Harlequins team-mate in Scott Baldwin as defence coach, the Northumbrian added: “Alex and Scott both seem very passionate, and that’s contagious.

“Everyone’s excited about the season ahead but we know there’s a lot of work to be done between now and then. Those pillars are being put in place and it’s all starting to come together.

“The idea is we want to play attractive rugby in a way which brings in the crowd and gets people excited.

“When Kingston Park is full or nearly full the atmosphere is amazing, and as backs we’re going to be working hard on our skill sets – especially under pressure. The forwards will be doing likewise because you need everybody to buy into it and do what’s required of them, coupled with the physicality that any team needs at this level.”

Asked where he sees the main threats in the league as teams prepare for the official fixture launch on July 18, he said: “The Gallagher Premiership’s such a tough league that every game is going to be hard, and nobody can take any result for granted.

“You know what you’re going to get from your Sales and your Saracens, and then you’ve got the likes of Bath who have brought in a lot of signings. We need to make sure we’re at the right level because that’s the standard we’re up against, and that’s the process we’re on with right now.”

Season tickets for 2023-24 are on sale now by [**clicking here**][1].

[1]: https://www.eticketing.co.uk/newcastle-falcons/EDP/Season/Index/1850?returnUrl=/newcastle-falcons/Seasons/Seasons