John Wells: Newcastle Falcons players control their own destiny

John Wells knows coaches can talk all they want - it is ultimately down to Newcastle Falcons' players where they finish this season

Stu Forster/Getty Images John Wells
John Wells

Head coach John Wells says it is down to Newcastle Falcons’ players to decide how successful they want to be.

The Kingston Park club have been in the bottom two for each of their last three Premiership seasons, that run interrupted only by their 2013 RFU Championship promotion.

Second-bottom to Worcester last term and now in the thick of their pre-season preparations, the former Leicester and England coach sat his squad down on day one to lay out the framework with which Newcastle will attack the campaign.

Wells revealed: “The main message was not so much vision and values stuff, because the players are the ones who will decide how far they want to go.

“It is all right us as coaches being sat round a table and saying we should be doing X, Y and Z, but in reality it is about getting the buy-in from the players. It is they who have got to drive the side, but the main point we raised with them was about simple things being done well.

“From a holistic standpoint it was saying make yourself the best you can be, and if that means just coming in on a morning, working your nuts off and going home that little bit fitter, then great.

“If you start adding the rugby side to that, coming away from a training session that little bit smarter and having made 19 good passes out of 20, then you have gone away a better player.

“What I don’t want to see is guys going through the motions, just trying to simply get through this time of the year.

“We have to have a real intensity.”

Mixing positivity with realism in the manner which has become his trademark, the newly promoted head coach added: “Two years ago we said we want to get out of the Championship, and we did it.

“Last year we wanted to do well in the Premiership but the non-negotiable element was staying in the division, which we did.

“We under-performed and we are well aware of that, but this year we want to do better.”

With the introduction of a plastic pitch among the summer changes to a squad seeing 10 new signings, Wells said: “There has been an intent to improve the facilities with what we are doing to Kingston Park.

“The quality of our kit is good and everybody likes wearing it, and there has been an intent to improve the quality of the squad.

“There is an intent about the whole club to move on from where it has been and, rather than worrying about why it got there, let us just look to the future and see where we can go.”

He added: “Last season was just bloody tough, if we are honest.

“We struggled to deal with some of the packs which banged us and beat us around, and when we did win a bit of good ball we struggled to get over the line and score tries.

“There are lots of things we are capable of doing better, and if we can start to put a few of those right we are not going to be far away.

“There were eight Premiership games we lost by seven points or fewer. I am not saying we can convert all of those, but if we can turn a few of them and start losing the 41-20 games by 25-23 instead, it is all about picking up those points when you are under the cosh against good sides.

“Those are the kind of improvements we want this season – more wins, and more competitiveness.”

Insisting there were no qualms about renewing Will Welch’s captaincy despite huge competition for back row places, Wells said: “We will worry about selection week by week, but Will is doing a great job.”

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