JONNY Golding believes Newcastle Falcons are building on firm foundations with their new-look management team.
The prop-forward is into his second week of pre-season training with the Kingston Park club, who are preparing to welcome Dean Richards as their new director of rugby in August.
Golding served his apprenticeship as a junior with Leicester Tigers during the Richards glory years, stating: “I did not really work much with him first-hand with being in the academy, but I was obviously aware of his influence and the whole aura that he has.
“I could see the good work he was doing there in terms of setting the culture and all the rest of it, so like everybody else I am looking forward to when he starts later in the summer.
“From what I can gather in the short term he seems like a top guy and somebody who is really approachable for the players, so it will be great to have him on board.”
With long-time Leicester comrade John Wells set to remain as forwards coach, Golding added: “That is another major boost, because he is very much in the same mould and has enjoyed great success with Dean during their time together.
“Graham Steadman, too, looks like being a quality addition to the defensive set-up, and we already have good guys with the likes of Micky Ward taking the front-row, Calum MacRae on skills and all the rest of the support staff.
“As players we are lucky to have such a professional set-up, and Semore Kurdi as our owner has really backed the boys in putting every little thing in place for us. It is all heading towards being a good season, and the guys at the top of the club deserve the recognition for the work they have done in allowing us this sort of environment.” Determined to avoid a repeat of their bottom-placed finish last season despite a late surge, the 30-year-old said: “We finished the campaign strongly, and I saw a stat somewhere that said if the league had started after Christmas we would have been around the top half of the table or thereabouts.
“Obviously that doesn’t change where we ended up and everybody accepts responsibility for that, but it is still an encouraging sign. That sort of building work is often a slow process and it does take time to get right, but the squad looks good and everyone is cracking on with their work.”
Now into week two of their summer preparation, Golding revealed that the era of the summer binge followed by three months of flogging is no more.
He joked: “Unfortunately those days are gone!
“I’ve done a few of these pre-seasons now, but the first week has definitely gone well. We had our fitness tests on the first day, and the feedback across the squad was that the boys have all looked after themselves and kept in good nick during their time away.
“That is a great base to build on, and it has repaid the trust that has been put in us by the coaches.
“We will step it up as we go along, but the first week has been good hard work and very enjoyable at the same time.” Helping the club’s raft of new arrivals to settle into the North East, the England Saxons cap added: “The boys are really gelling well, including all the new lads, and it seems to have been pretty easy for them to slot into the set-up that we have here.
“The philosophy we have now is that we work hard as a team, and have a bit of fun when the time is right.
“Like with any pre-season the aim is to make sure we hit September with plenty of momentum behind us, and while it is obviously early days there seems to be a good atmosphere and things are coming together nicely.”