JOEL Hodgson believes Newcastle Falcons have only scratched the surface of their capabilities despite reaching the midway stage of the season unbeaten in all competitions.
Twelve points clear at the top of the Championship, the Falcons go for a third British and Irish Cup group win on Saturday when they travel to Welsh part-timers Newport.
Hodgson could well come into the equation as director of rugby Dean Richards (pictured below) freshens up his XV, – and the 20-year-old is adamant there is still plenty more to come.
He said: “Overall we are fairly happy and with 11 wins from 11 plus two in the cup you would probably expect that.
“The most encouraging thing is despite all those positive results we still don’t feel we have reached anywhere near our full potential.
“There are exciting times ahead when you look at it like that and I don’t think we are too far away from taking those steps to get where we want to be.
“When we do that someone is going to be on the end of 60 or 70 points.”
Admitting to frustrations after Friday’s 31-15 win over Plymouth, Hodgson added: “It is pretty common knowledge now the team was not best pleased with the performance.
“We left a lot of tries out there and a lot of opportunities were wasted.
“We didn’t take what we had worked on during the week into the actual game, but there were still positives.
“We scored 31 points in a game where we weren’t even up to half of what we are capable of, but this thing about leaving tries on the field is becoming an issue now which needs to be addressed during these next two cup games.
“Our width and our shape were apretty good and that was pleasing because a lot of attention has gone on how we combine our forward runners with our ball players.
“Now it is just about taking it to the next level, but we are gradually getting there.” Covered in mud from another bruising session, Hodgson added: “Monday and Tuesday were both tough training days and we have been knocking lumps out of each other.
“The boys are right up for Newport and we want to make a statement.”
Treating their Welsh hosts with respect despite Newcastle being overwhelming favourites, the fly-half said: “We have sourced footage on them just as we do against every team we play, and from that point of view this week is no different. We will have a look at what they are about as you would expect, but when you look at the top sides they spend an 80-20 balance looking at themselves compared to the opposition.
“Taking the necessary steps in our own game is more what it is about in terms of producing the performance we all want, but of course we will have a watch of at Newport just to see what we are up against these next two weeks.” Adapting his game to the seasonal elements, Hodgson added: “It does change how you can play, but you have to be willing to make that change because you cannot do anything about the pitch or the weather.
“I have no problem doing what I need to during the winter months and getting involved with the big stuff when needs be.
“If I had a few more kilos I would be offering myself to carry the ball at every opportunity and you can’t play an expansive wide-wide game when the conditions are poor.
“There are other things you can do in terms of putting runners through holes with little pops, and for me creating a try is just as important as scoring.”