Andy Saull is fit and ready to play a full part in Newcastle Falcons’ Premiership opener tomorrow night.
The England Saxons openside, signed from Saracens this summer, missed the first two of Newcastle’s three warm-up games, but packed down in Hawick last Friday in their 15-5 defeat to Edinburgh.
The 24-year-old said: “I was ill at first, and just tweaked my hamstring a little bit afterwards.
“I am back fit now, although the lungs were burning a bit after the game in Hawick last weekend.
“I feel good, I have trained well all week and hopefully I can dust off a few cobwebs. I know I have a few creases to iron out from how I played against Edinburgh, but that is all in hand and I am just looking forward to Friday now.”
Admitting the Falcons’ batteries were a bar more depleted than during their previous two outings, Saull said: “There is running fitness and match fitness, which are two entirely different things.
“You need to play the games, and perhaps our match fitness took a bit of a dent against Edinburgh.
“We weren’t as energetic as we had been in our other two friendlies, but we have had a good training week and the momentum is behind us.”
Playing in front of the BT Sport cameras for the first time tomorrow in the Premiership’s only game of the night, it will be a welcome return to the spotlight for the RFU Championship winners.
Saull joked: “I am sure there will be some TV haircuts – guys going in clean-shaven or with a fresh new style.
“That could be interesting, but playing on telly is always good fun.The squad have responded well to it this week, in terms of the pressure.
“It would be easy to over-hype it and think it is the biggest week of your life, and in that instance you can get nervous and not relax into it.
“But the boys are just letting the excitement quietly bubble underneath them.
“We know we have put the work in during the summer, and in terms of that energy it will come storming to the surface when the game kicks off on Friday night. I think we will shock a few people.”
Aware of the confrontational challenge posed by a Bath side coached by former Falcons boss Gary Gold, Newcastle had a first-hand look at the West Country outfit when the two met in France four weeks ago. “They might throw a couple of different moves and combinations at us, but with regards to their general ethos I think it is fair to say people know how they are going to play,” said Saull.
“Not much changes in terms of which style a team plays in. For example, Leicester are always going to be a forward-dominated side who go hard at the breakdown, and we knew what Bath would bring to the table even before we played them in Beziers.
“They are a very direct team, and what we have seen so far from them is almost like a London Wasps of old.
“They play very much around the corner with big ball-carriers, saying we are going to run as hard as we can and you are going to have to stop us. The gauntlet, so to speak, has been laid down, and we know it is going to be a physical confrontation.
“Their forwards really like to drive, to try and impose themselves on you, and it will be one of those gritty games.
“I hope the weather stays nice, which I understand it might not, but either way they will be a handful.”
Keen to utilise the momentum from last season’s Championship charge, he added: “Carrying on from finishing the season so strongly in May, you can sense the wind is behind Newcastle.
“The boys have only lost something like three games over a 12-month period, and anybody is going to benefit from that.”