BRENT Wilson admits he will have mixed emotions tomorrow night when he leads Nottingham out against former club Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park.
The 31-year-old made more than a century of appearances during his five seasons in the Falcons’ back-row before returning to his native New Zealand, frustrated by a lack of game-time under previous head coach Alan Tait.
Now back in England and captaining Nottingham to second place in the Championship, Wilson said: “It will be weird being in the opposition team at Kingston Park but I have a lot of good memories from my time at Newcastle.
“Towards the end I was not starting as much and was hardly involved, so at Nottingham now I am just happy to be playing every week and having the chance to show what I can do.”
With Semore Kurdi now the Falcons’ owner and Tait long gone from the coaching team, Wilson added: “Semore seems like a good man and it was just bad timing with how things worked out for me.
“With Taity in charge I was not enjoying it or getting a lot of rugby.
“To finish in that way was disappointing, but the club seem in better shape now and Semore coming in has been great news.”
With Gary Gold brought in to replace Tait last January and then Dean Richards taking over in the summer, Wilson said: “It looks like things are finally getting done which should have been done a long time ago.
“The changes to the coaching team should probably have happened a lot earlier.
“It is a shame they held off as long as they did because it became too much to claw back in terms of surviving in the Premiership.
“However, they did at least show under Gary that they could pull together and play as a team. It was too late in the end, but with Dean in there now it is a step in the right direction.
“When the off-field stuff is right it makes things much easier for the players and that seems to finally be the case.
“The right changes have been made and, having struggled for a few years at the bottom end of the Premiership, this relegation could end up being a positive thing in the long-term.
“Other clubs have used it to rebuild and return stronger and Dean will know that from his time at Harlequins.”
Wilson, undertandably, is much more concerned with focusing his attention on a Nottingham side who have snuck under the radar somewhat to become the Falcons’ nearest challengers at the top of the table following Sunday’s remarkable 63-7 thrashing of Bristol, in which he crossed for two of their nine converted tries.
The New Zealand Sevens international joked: “I think every team is under the radar compared to Newcastle!
“Everyone around the league is talking about them, so the rest of us underneath can just go about our business without too much fuss or recognition.
“We are really happy with how things are going, and our new coach Martin Haag has done a great job.
“People have said it was a surprise scoreline last weekend and it was a surprise to us playing in it too!
“It was an unbelievable day and we thought it was going to be a tough game with the way Bristol put Bedford away the week before.
“We knew we would have to start well, and we just backed ourselves.”
Meanwhile, The Journal can reveal Sean Tomes has extended his stay at the Falcons until the end of the season.
The lock had initially joined up on a three-month trial.