Jordan Meads believes he has jumped on Gateshead Thunder’s wagon at just the right moment – the long-time strugglers of English rugby league now an upwardly-mobile force with genuine promotion ambitions.
The former Melbourne Storm and New Zealand Warriors half-back stole the show in his first full game last weekend as they thrashed London Skolars 66-6 in a club record-equalling scoreline, named ‘player of the week’ for the entire division as he pulled the creative strings.
Hunslet Hawks are the visitors to the International Stadium tonight in an 8pm Championship One kick-off, Thunder currently occupying the last of the five promotion play-off positions but having played one game more than the teams either side of them.
Their upsurge in form has coincided with their takeover by rugby union neighbours Newcastle Falcons, Meads gazing out from the plush hospitality suites of their Kingston Park stadium and declaring himself impressed by the set-up.
“One of the boys was telling me the other day how many games Gateshead had lost in a row a few years ago, so to come here and equal the biggest win in the club’s history is something whch suggests the future is now bright here,” he said during a day of exploring the region.
“First things first, everybody is friendly here.
“Even when you are just walking down the street they give you a bit of a ‘hello’, which is a little bit different, and it seems a beautiful place.
“The north certainly seems better than the south of England.”
On-field impressions have been equally positive, Thunder running in 13 tries last time out as Meads cut a dash in the kind of team performance coaches fantasise over.
He added: “It could not have gone much better.
“You don’t often get games where everything goes as well as that and hopefully it can be a springboard for us.
“The boys know one game doesn’t mean too much as things stand, but if we can keep building on that we can make a run towards the finals.”
York, Oldham, Hunslet and Glouc-ester currently join them in the top five of the third tier of English rugby league, Thunder buoyed by a player influx which seems set to continue as they focus in on their stated aim of rising through the leagues.
Retaining Meads’ services features high on their priority list, and already plans are in place for a two-year contract which would extend his stay on Tyneside beyond his current short-term arrangement.
He said: “We are hoping to have my short to medium-term future sorted out very soon but my wife and I are settling in really well, we are loving life in the North East and looking forward to helping Gateshead Thunder get where they want to be.”
As part of growing links between the two clubs, Newcastle Falcons’ season ticket holders can gain entry this evening for just £5 on production of their card.
The Falcons have meanwhile announced a trio of pre-season fixtures against Bayonne, Rotherham and Edinburgh, director of rugby Dean Richards believing it will set them up nicely for the new Premiership season.
He said: “We play a good mix of teams who will all fancy their chances of having strong seasons in their respective leagues and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
Meanwhile, Washington RFC are looking for a new level-two volunteer coach for the Durham and Northumberland Three club, who can commit to match-days and training. Interested parties should email firstname.lastname@example.org.