ENGLAND World Cup stars Jonny Wilkinson and Toby Flood will make their comebacks for Newcastle Falcons at Wasps on Saturday – and All Blacks star Carl Hayman is hoping to make his debut alongside them.
Falcons boss John Fletcher unveiled 28-year-old prop Hayman at Kingston Park yesterday and announced that Wilkinson and Flood will play in the crucial EDF Energy Cup-tie. Hayman may be on the bench .
It depends on how Hayman, tagged as “the world’s best prop”, handles jet-lag and how he goes in training this week after taking a break following New Zealand’s disappointing World Cup.
“We’ll sit down and talk to Carl,” said Fletcher. “Then we’ll see how things go and make a decision from there.”
Fletcher is reputed to have signed Hayman on a 30-month contract worth £1m and he added: “He’s being paid to play and he’s pretty keen to do that.
“He’s been charging around – he wants to get out there and do his bit, but we have to manage the situation and get it right, so we’ll wait and see.
“Both Jonny and Toby have recovered from their injury problems and will train this week and are in the squad and Jonny will start on Saturday and the likelihood is that Toby will as well. If things are right, then Carl could be on the bench.
“You never have too much of problem with Kiwis. They are like Geordies, they just get on with it and do their jobs. He’s a good bloke and will fit in well here.
“He is world class and when he became available we decided to chase him. People like Carl do not become available too often and it shows what an ambitious club we are. We have signed big-name players before – we’re not the biggest club in the world but we try to do it our way, which is grow our own players and the occasional big-name signing, but we have to get the balance right.
“Signing Carl was a no-brainer. He will be a good, good signing for us. He will help the likes of Davey Wilson, Micky Ward, Jonny Williams and Jon Golding and few guys in the academy as well.”
Hayman spent most of yesterday asleep after his long journey from New Zealand. He said: “I haven’t played for a wee while and I have to learn the patterns and calls here and I’m going to talk to the coaches to see how things pan out for the weekend, but I’d like to be out there as soon as possible.”
Hayman decided on Newcastle after talking to former Falcon Craig Newby and Joe McDonnell. “They told me what a great place Newcastle is and I know the Falcons are a progressive club and play an open style of game which suits me,” he said. “I’m looking forward to contributing to a club that is going places and I think the time is right for me to make the change from New Zealand and move on.
“There were other offers, especially from French clubs, but my French is not that flash and I have more chance of learning the Geordie accent! I haven’t come here looking for a pension fund deal. I’m 28 and I have plenty of good rugby left in me and I think the best years are yet to come.
“I have no idea whether my international career is on hold or has stopped. I don’t have a crystal ball and we’ll just have see what happens when my contract ends at Newcastle, who knows I may decide to stay on. From first impressions Newcastle seems like a fantastic place. During the World Cup my wife came here to look at properties, so we had it all sorted before arriving full-time and it’s good to get settled so quickly in our own place.
“I was pleasantly surprised with the weather when we woke up this morning, because you do hear stories about the British winters. I’m looking forward to getting involved more in the training as we go on and getting stuck in to the rugby here with the talent in the Falcons squad right now.
“I’d love to be in a Premiership-winning team with Newcastle– that’s my aim. I’ve come here with that mind and from what I have seen of this team so far we have the ability to do that. I’m the new boy here and I will be keeping my head down for a while before I start offering advice, but I do think I have a lot to offer and it would be nice to be part of a club that looks like it’s going places.”
What about that label of being the world’s best prop? “I don’t know about that,” he said. “It’s a funny old tag and it doesn’t mean much to me or the way I do things or go about things.
“If other people buy into that and it gives them motivation that’s up them, but it really doesn’t come into it for me.”
Meanwhile, Falcons’ Aussie full-back Matt Burke will have his knee reconstruction surgery in Australia this week.
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Full name: Carl Joseph Hayman.
Birthplace: Opunake, New Zealand
Birthdate: November 14, 1979.
Age: 28. Height: 6ft 4in. Weight: 18st 2lbs.
Playing position: Prop forward.
International honours: 31 senior appearances for New Zealand.
Club career in brief: Has played with provincial side Otago and Super league side Highlanders in New Zealand since 1999, making 65 and 63 appearances for the clubs respectively. He agreed to join Newcastle after this year’s World Cup, linking up with his new side this week.