FRESH from scoring the try which kept them alive in the Aviva Premiership survival race, hooker Michael Mayhew insists he is keen to stay on at Newcastle Falcons.
The 24-year-old Kiwi was brought to the club on a short-term contract to cover for injuries to Rob Vickers and Matt Thompson, and has crossed the try-line twice in his six first-team appearances.
The most important of those was his 77th-minute effort in Friday’s 16-16 draw with fellow strugglers Worcester, after which head coach Alan Tait revealed he will look to make a more permanent decision on Mayhew’s future.
The player himself hinted that a further deal would be welcome, saying: “I really enjoy being at the club.
“Newcastle is a great city and there is a fantastic set-up at the Falcons, so if it all works out then hopefully something might happen.”
Reliving his dramatic late try which leaves the Falcons still five points adrift of Worcester, he joked: “Being a front-rower obviously it was a 100-metre interception.
“No, in all seriousness we just managed to gather the ball close to their line with a bit of go-forward. I picked it up, got driven over and felt straightaway that I had scored.
“When the video referee was taking so long to award it I did start to have doubts.
“Deep down I knew I had got it, but it was a massive relief when the ref’s hand went in their air.
“We still had the conversion to come and I knew there was a lot of pressure on Jimmy Gopperth with the kick, but it all worked out in the end.”
Admitting to frustrations with the performance, Mayhew said: “We showed in the last 20 minutes what we were capable of when we held on to the ball, but in other parts of our game we were giving away too much possession.
“We were not putting them under a lot of pressure, but there is still a long way to go into the competition and hopefully we can head upwards from here.
“Playing for 80 minutes seems to be the problem, but we are a capable team. At times we just seem to go flat, and we need to work out a way of stopping that coming into our game.
“Little things like the odd set-piece, some of our ball security and things like that need to be ironed out, but we have the team to do it. There is a lot of fight in this squad, and the boys are never going to give up for each other. How close-knit we are is really positive, and it will count for a lot.
“The crowd were awesome on Friday. It was a big disappointment that we could not get the win for those guys, but we will get better and hopefully they can stick with us.”
Turning attention to Saturday’s home date with Lyon, the French club who have had their last two games cancelled due to a mumps outbreak, Mayhew said: “I am not sure if I have had my injection back home, to be honest, so I will be on the phone and chatting to the parents to see if it is something I need to get on top of.”
That need seems to have diminished now, with the news that Lyon’s players were given the green light to resume full training yesterday.
Looking forward to the European experience, he added: “Playing in the competition is something I am really looking forward to, if I get the chance.
“One of the great things about being in the UK is that you play teams from all over, whereas back home it is the same old sides that you are up against every week. The Amlin Challenge Cup exposes you to different styles of rugby, and as a player that is only going to help you keep learning all the time.”