John Wells: Newcastle Falcons building on and off the field

Head coach John Wells has lifted the lid on Newcastle Falcons' plans for a more expansive game this coming season.

Stu Forster/Getty Images John Wells
John Wells

The diggers on the Kingston Park pitch are a sign of the building work going on at Newcastle Falcons – John Wells’ constructive mind-set extending far beyond the intended installation of their plastic playing surface.

A new job title and another season have in no way tempered the enthusiasm of the former Leicester and England boss, promoted to Dean Richards’ head coach following the summer departure of Peter Russell.

“I have had that job title before and the way Dean and the club works means everybody is in the mix in some way, shape or form,” says Wells, making a welcome return to media duty after far too long out of the limelight.

Unfairly labelled by some as a stymying purveyor of slow, cumbersome rugby, the former back-rower insists he and his Falcons team are ready to cut off the shackles and open up the field.

“We have to play to the strengths of the team we have got, and we will have a pitch out there which we know is going to be fast,” he said, staring out from the elevated vantage point of the Kingston Park hospitality boxes. “If you think about what Dean set up at Harlequins and the way they play - that is his picture.”

Insisting his vision chimes with that of his director of rugby, Wells added: “I would like to think we have a lot in common and his philosophy is to play football and move teams around.

“If you have a pack like Toulon’s you can play it differently, but we have different strengths within our side which we will look to use.”

Admitting his promotion from forwards coach to head coach may mean little in practical terms, he said: “I am just there to try and make things run as smoothly as possible.

“We sat down in a room and decided what we are going to do in attack, defence and how we are going to play.

“It is not the John Wells or Dean Richards show – it is about using the strengths of the entire coaching team and all the players we have.

“I am very fortunate to have a whole bunch of good passionate, young, local coaches who have been associated with the club before in Micky Ward, Dave Walder and Jackie (Hall) Charlton.

“In the academy we have Mark Laycock and James Ponton and they are all very passionate about making this club successful.

“My job is just to channel their energy and enthusiasm, and make the best of them.”

Speaking at a time when his squad are in the thick of their physical preparation, traversing the gap between fitness and field work is a consideration with which he is well acquainted.

Wells added: “During pre-season a lot of it is about managing and facilitating the transition between conditioning and rugby training.

“At this time of year there is a strong conditioning emphasis, but that s not at the total expense of the rugby.

“We have drip-fed rugby into them in stages but there is always a danger we can negate the gains in the gym by putting the guys on their feet too much, too early.

“It is a balance between getting them fitter, faster and stronger, but also not losing sight of why we are doing it.

“The aim is to play rugby, and after the week’s break they have in late July the emphasis will shift more to the rugby side.”


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