Game-time and the enthusiasm of Dean Richards are two of the factors that have drawn Danny Barnes to Newcastle Falcons.
The Irish centre, 23, was among the first names to commit to the Kingston Park club following their promotion back into the Aviva Premiership, and showed early promise during a 40- minute shift last week as his new side drew 21-21 with Bath.
Making just one start and three bench appearances for Munster during last season’s Rabodirect Pro 12, after 10 starts and five replacement outings the year before, Barnes admitted that minutes on the field were part of his thought process in deciding to move.
“There was a change in coaching at Munster and, for one reason or another, I wasn’t lucky enough to get in that much,” he said, as he prepares for the Falcons’ home date with Irish province Connacht on Saturday.
“From speaking to Dean Richards and the other Newcastle coaches I was keen to come over here, and to start playing some more rugby.
“I didn’t know a whole lot about the Falcons to begin with if I am totally honest, due to being in the Championship, but the enthusiasm and clear vision Dean and his fellow coaches had for the place was compelling.
“I met with Dean, and the passion with which he talked about Newcastle was a big draw for me.
“It was very encouraging, and any ambitious player would want to be a part of something like that.”
Educated in the hard-school of Munster, Barnes said of the European power- house: “I have been with them all the way through, since under-17s.
“It has been quite strange coming over to a new club after spending so long there, but the Munster environment has been massive in shaping my development and putting me on the right path.
“Just being in training every day with the likes of Ronan O’Gara, Dougie Howlett and guys like that – you learn so much from watching them and taking pointers when they talk to you.
“Perhaps I took that for granted a bit, because that was the way it had always been during my time at Munster, but hopefully I can take some of the things I have learned and put them into practice with the Falcons.”
With long-term designs on a run at outside-centre, Barnes is realistic enough to know that the collective comes first, when asked his favoured position.
“I am more of a 13, but I can play at 12 and have also dabbled on the wing,” he said. “Outside-centre would be my preferred spot if I had the choice, but obviously that is not how team sport works, and I will play wherever the side needs me most. Getting to put the jersey on is the main thing, and contributing to the group.”
Braced for the added physicality and pressure of life in England’s top flight, where dead-rubbers are few and far between, he said: “Confrontation and contact are both aspects of the game that I relish.
“I spoke to a few of the Munster boys who had played in the Premiership before, and they were saying that every single game is a physical battle.
“At one end of the league there are sides going for the top-four play-offs, and at the other there are clubs desperate to avoid relegation.
“In the Rabo sometimes you can ease off and put out a second-string team when the result is perhaps not as crucial, but I am looking forward to the pressure and style of the Premiership.
“We have worked very hard on our basic skills, as well as the usual gym work you would expect at this time of year, and I can’t wait to get stuck into the games now.”
Meanwhile, Falcons have confirmed that Will Welch will continue to captain the side during the new campaign.