Scott MacLeod says it was a “no-brainer” to re-sign with Newcastle Falcons, insisting there are plenty of miles left in the legs despite having already passed his 35th birthday.
The former Scotland second-row joined the Falcons two years ago as part of their bid to regain Premiership status, his athleticism and line-out acumen one of the features of their 2012-13 RFU Championship-winning campaign.
A regular in the side again this season, the Hawick native has been reborn at Kingston Park after a difficult season in Japan in which he hardly ever featured due to strict quotas on the number of overseas players permitted to take the field.
MacLeod said when asked if committing to the Falcons had been a tough call: “It was an easy decision for me, at 35.
“It really was a no-brainer.
“I still feel like I have a lot to give and, even though age catches up with us all, I genuinely feel as good now as I did when I was in my 20s.”
Only joining the professional ranks in his 20s after crossing over from basketball, the former Edinburgh and Scarlets man added: “I was a bit of a late starter to rugby, and hopefully that can hold me in good stead.
“I feel sweet at the moment but I know this is a tough competition. Especially in the position I play, we are always looking for solutions.
“That means we have to train hard and come up with things and this as hard a working team as I have ever been part of.
“The work ethic is superb and, while no team deserves anything in sport, hopefully we can at least do ourselves justice given what everybody has put in.”
With two games left of the Premiership season Newcastle sit eight points clear of Worcester Warriors at the bottom of the Premiership.
Victory at London Wasps on Saturday or a win for Saracens against Worcester would be enough to secure another season of top-flight rugby, MacLeod admitting the pressure of avoiding the drop has been a first.
He added: “I have seen a fair bit in my time and experienced a lot of things, but trying to avoid relegation is a new one,” he said.
“Just the threat of it is something different, and in the Pro 12 you don’t have that same pressure on games.
“You can’t really think about it, and if you get wrapped up in worrying about this and that then it is only going to affect you in a negative way.
“If you start fretting over consequences you can become more cagey or nervous and I thought that reflected in a lot of our play last season when we moved towards the Championship play-offs.
“We went a bit more conservative in our play, we weren’t playing as well and it is not a pattern we want to repeat.”
Elaborating on his reasons for staying put as he continues to make the daily commute from his family home in the Scottish borders, the charismatic forward said: “Honestly, I just love being here.
“It is absolutely perfect for me and for my family in Hawick.
“The Scots have a similar sort of outlook and personality to the Geordies and I can travel down every day from home.”
Laughing when asked if he had memorised all the cameras along the route yet, MacLeod joked: “There aren’t many cameras, to be honest.
“There is one at the Highlander pub near Belsay. I have been in there for a meal and the surf-and-turf is particularly nice!
“In all the time I have been doing that drive I have not seen a police car other than if it is sitting at Belsay.
“I’m not a quick driver anyway, and I’m always watching my miles to the gallon.
“I can get five or six trips out of my car if I don’t horse it and I am not a speed man.”
Meanwhile, Falcons’ Scottish veterans Ally Hogg and Mike Blair will assist Tynedale’s Tom Bramald in a new-look coaching team at Ponteland RFC.