CARLO Del Fava is back on an even keel after the Falcons’ new Italian international arrived in Newcastle on the same day as the floods.
The 54-times-capped second-rower thought he had seen it all before in a career which has taken in Natal Sharks in South Africa, French club Bourgoin, Irish giants Ulster and Italian outfit Aironi.
But nothing could prepare him for what he was about to meet upon landing in Tyneside, revealing: “The afternoon that the flash floods hit Newcastle was actually my first day here.
“We were half-way through unpacking the removal truck when it all started to happen, so the guys just shut the lorry and drove off with a load of our stuff before they got stranded by the floods.
“Fortunately they came back the next day to finish the job, but it was quite frightening and I have never seen water come down like that before.
“We managed to stay above the floods, thank God, but looking out of the window we were quite scared for our first day in our new home. I looked at the wife on the other side of the room, and the feeling from both of us was basically, ‘this is not good at all’. I am sure it is not a bad omen, though, and thankfully it seems to have eased off now.”
Already two weeks into his pre-season preparations, Del Fava said: “There are still a lot of boxes in the house to unpack, but in terms of the rugby side everything is going well.
“The hard work is being put in, and it is all about finding your place in the group and contributing what you can. The training has been outstanding, and as far as the organisation of the club goes the Falcons are absolutely brilliant.
“We are starting very early in the morning and getting through a lot of work before most people have even had their breakfast, but we are finished and fed by 2pm every day which makes such a difference to your family life.”
Crediting a slick operation at Kingston Park in which the players want for nothing, he added: “We have team meals in between the sessions which are all exactly the right sorts of food, and everything has been thought out so well.
“As players you know exactly what you are doing and why you are doing it, and the coaches have obviously spent a huge amount of time on it. There is so much research and background work that we do not see going into that planning, and it has really impressed me.”
Mixing fitness with ball work, the Azzurri lock said: “I much prefer training the way we are doing it at Newcastle, even though it is incredibly hard.
“We have a real balance between conditioning work and rugby training, and it just means that as we get nearer to the start of the season the ball is not going to seem like some sort of alien object to us.
“We are already into contact work, we have running legs on us and the balance between both of those things is going to be important for us when the games begin.”
Among Newcastle’s pre-season destinations will be one especially familiar for the 6ft 6 forward, who spent two successful seasons with Ulster.
The Falcons travel to Belfast to face them at Ravenhill on August 24, with Del Fava saying: “It was a nice surprise when I saw that one on the fixture list.
“It will be a good way to gauge where we are as a squad in what will be our final game before the start of the league season down at Bristol.
“Ulster will be absolutely flying after making the Heineken Cup final. The momentum will be behind them, but we have just got to go over there and give them hell.”