Welch set for 250-game milestone
The Kingston Park clash sees the welcome return of fans with up to 1,750 allowed inside the ground for the test event – a night which would carry no shortage of significance for Welch.
“I didn’t know it was due to be my 250th until yesterday, to be honest,” said the 31-year-old, who made his first team debut at the age of just 17.
“I had a feeling it might have been due in this block of games but our media guy messaged me to tell me it would be on Monday, and it’ll be a great honour if I’m selected.
“It’s a good time to have it with us finally being allowed to have some fans back, and at least it means some of my family would be able to come in and share the occasion if I’m involved in the game.”
Having become the Falcons’ youngest ever captain when he took over the reins at the age of 22 back in 2012, the former RGS Newcastle pupil insists there is still plenty of life in the legs yet.
“The passion and the desire is still there for me, and if it wasn’t then I’d start looking to call it a day,” he said.
“I was a Falcons fan as a kid, I used to come here to watch them play and it’s great to have gone on to have such a long involvement. A big part of it for me as well is helping to grow the club, and I still feel like I’ve got something to offer on that side of things.”
Delighted by the prospect of playing in front of a crowd after a season of battling on in empty stadia, Welch said: “Having fans back in will be massive, even if it’s a very limited number.
“I think it’s just that little slice of normality that everyone has been craving, and we’ve all been waiting 14 months for it.
“It’s just not been the same without supporters inside the ground, even though it’s been good to get the games played. We’ve gradually got used to it over time, but it’s something to really look forward to in knowing we’ll have some of our crowd back in on Monday night.”
Newcastle go into Monday’s game with a spring on their step after scoring seven converted tries in Saturday’s 52-27 home win over London Irish, Welch stating: “Last weekend was really important from a confidence point of view.
“We managed to string together more good minutes within the 80 than we have managed for probably a couple of months, and that was great to see.
“The thing for us now is to back it up and make sure it’s not just a flash in the pan.”