Fresh from helping England lift the Under-20s World Cup in France, Dom Barrow believes the same unity and work ethic can help Newcastle Falcons flourish on their Aviva Premiership return.
The Yorkshireman started in last month’s Junior World Championship final in France, packing down at lock in a 23-15 win over Wales.
The 6ft 8 forward used the tournament as an opportunity to get the inside story on the Falcons from tight- head prop Scott Wilson, revealing: “I spoke to a few lads about Newcastle who have been involved with the club, and Scotty was pretty high on that list.
“I was tapping him for information to find out what it was going to be like, but he is a man of few words at the best of times.
“What that means, though, is when he does talk, you listen.
“Basically he was full of praise for the squad, the atmosphere and the whole culture at the Falcons, which has been backed up by what I have found since my arrival.”
Noting similar qualities from the England squad as he gets stuck into pre- season with his new club, Barrow added: “There were no stars, no egos in the under-20s squad this year – just a real group of honest lads who were all pulling in the same direction.
“It is early days for me at Newcastle and I don’t want to speak out of turn, but that seems to be the same as what I have experienced in the Falcons’ squad. Even though there is immense talent and experience, it is all based around the collective and what they can bring to the team.”
Part of a national side finally breaking New Zealand’s stranglehold on the Junior World Championship, the former Leeds man added: “Being part of a World Cup-winning squad was something special, and was really down to the group mentality.
“The year before we had taken a star- studded team with more egos and we didn’t achieve what we probably should have done. When you compare that with the group for this year, while there was the same level of talent across the field what we had this time round was a group where everyone was willing to muck in for one another.”
Barrow’s arrival is another boon to a Falcons squad minus James Hudson for next season – the former Bath and London Irish man having headed to Gloucester.
Carlo del Fava, Scott MacLeod and Sean Tomes all remain from last season, while Sale Sharks’ Fraser McKenzie is among the other options now at Newcastle’s disposal.
“You look at the talent in this group, and that was one of the real attractions about coming here,” said Barrow, one of the most coveted signatures in the country and a real feather in Newcastle’s cap.
“Being in the same squad as players like Scott and Carlo – they are the guys I used to watch on TV and look up to. Add into that people like Fraser McKenzie and a whole host of others, and just by being in that environment I am going to become a better player.”
The Falcons’ Aviva Premiership trip to Saracens has been moved to Sunday, November 3, kick-off 3pm.
Director of rugby Dean Richards, as well as plotting the Falcons’ Premiership assault, is also lending a hand lower down the leagues.
The former England and Lions great will be ay Whitley Bay Rockliff RFC on Saturday as part of their family fun day (1pm) officially opening the club’s new £250,000 changing-room development.
Whitley Bay Rockliff director of rugby Neil Hayton said: “We are going from strength to strength at all levels of the club, and we are pretty certain Dean will be pleased to see rugby at a grassroots level is really thriving.”