Adam Powell is in a pretty good place at the moment – and by that the in-form centre does not just mean Newcastle.
Travelling to face his former club Saracens tomorrow, the England Saxons international has found game-time and appreciation in abundance at his new home.
Bounding into his interview in stocking feet, straight from the training field, the smiling southerner apologises for being late despite actually being 10 minutes early.
Proving a natural fit on Geordie shores, the Essex boy was on hand to score the Falcons’ winner against London Irish last weekend.
However, if you’re looking for someone to say a bad word about him, you might be disappointed.
Even his old employers have been laying out the welcome mat ahead of tomorrow’s clash at Allianz Park, Saracens skills coach Joe Shaw declaring the 26-year-old “still part of the family” during the build-up.
“My first involvement with Sarries was when I was 13,” says Powell, who has spent almost half of his life being affiliated with the wandering outfit, now finally ensconced in their new Barnet home after spells in Watford, Brussels and beyond.
“They saw me playing in an Essex Cup final for my school and they asked me to come and train with their under-15s. The school I went to wasn’t one of the big traditional rugby institutions – we just hit on a year group where we had quite a few good players in the same side.”
Such understatement is typical of a player who, even as a teenager, cemented his place in a Sarries squad packed with international names. That he had to leave last year reflects more on his own personal ambition than Saracens’ desire for him to depart and the messages have come thick and fast in the run-up to his return.
Powell added: “I spoke to two of the boys last week, but since then I have turned my phone off and not really got into any of that.
“When you go back to your old team you want to do something, and I am no different. It’s just natural.
“I will speak to them after the game, as you would do with any of your mates, but in terms of any banter beforehand we have just left it to the side.”
Along with fellow old-boy Andy Saull, Powell has been instrumental in the pre-match analysis for a Newcastle side ticking along nicely in eighth.
He revealed: “Saully has done a bit in terms of the tactical side, and where I have been able to chip in with the odd thing I have done that.
“It is more important we look at ourselves but Saracens do things their own way, just as every club does.
“The whole thing is based on hard work, and everybody buys into that.
“It has taken them a long way, and they have made changes to their attack this season we will have to deal with.
“It is a good club, a well-run club, and they will be tough opponents.”
Fresh from his try-scoring exploits last weekend it is a surprise to many Powell has enough left in his voice to conduct this interview, given how long and loud he shouted for the crucial pass in beating London Irish. “I would have been a little bit disappointed had I not been given the ball,” says the centre, considering using stronger language but opting against it.
“I saw I had the scrum-half against me and had Tom Catterick out wide.
“I knew if I got it I could draw in their winger, so I was screaming and shouting for a good minute before they finally used me. Luckily Mike Blair threw the perfect pass, we got the try and we managed to hold on.”
Hold on indeed, given the farcical finish which saw Exiles’ fly-half Shane Geraghty forced into a hurried penalty at the death as the wind twice blew his ball off the kicking tee. Powell added: “It was always going to be a tight game, and the wind had a massive impact on it. The kick was no gimme, being 40 yards out, and we knew there was a lot of pressure on Shane.
“I went up to him at the end and just said ‘what can you do’, but it is our wind and it worked for us!
“It was nice to get a try and even better to get the win.
“It is all about just racking up the points, no matter how they come. Last Sunday was another four for us now and it is testament to the spirit in the squad. I think last year in the Championship helped us develop that winning mentality, and getting results is far from alien to this group.
“We expect to win games and we know how to do it, so when we find ourselves in tight matches we can dig that bit deeper.”
Among the obstacles in place tomorrow is Saracens’ plastic pitch, not that Powell is making any excuses.
“I have played a couple of times there, and it is a good place to play your rugby,” he says, forming a centre pairing with Danny Barnes which has a two-from-two record against Sale Sharks and London Irish. “I played in the first three or four matches they ever staged there, and the whole place is nice. The changing rooms are big, the artificial turf is good and is very much the future of rugby.
“Having the third-generation field at Druid Park to train on definitely helps, although Allianz Park is a bit different with being a newer surface.
“A lot gets made of the pitch but, at the end of the day, Sarries are a good team.
“It is the team you are playing, not the pitch, and that is all we have to focus on. Playing better than them on the day is the only thing we are worrying about, because the turf is just a side issue.
“It is going to be fun. Saracens are one of the best teams in Europe, never mind England, and it will be great to test ourselves against good players in a stadium like theirs.”
Echoing the pragmatic message of his director of rugby in performance being more of a concern than points, he adds: “Dean Richards is right in saying the most important thing for us is to be playing well.
“If we play to the absolute maximum we are capable of, then it doesn’t matter what the result is. You know you could not have done more.”