Nesdale is flying back

Ross Nesdale is returning to Kingston Park where he will be forwards coach for at least the next three years.

Ross Nesdale

Ross Nesdale is returning to Kingston Park where he will be forwards coach for at least the next three years.

The hugely popular former Falcons and Ireland hooker was today unveiled by Rob Andrew as one of two new signings - with the prospect of more to come - to help strengthen Newcastle for their Zurich Premiership and Heineken Cup campaigns next season.

Nesdale has been signed on a three-year contract as forwards coach to take over from Andrew Blades, who is returning to Australia to take over as forwards coach for the Wallabies.

He was the regular No 2 for the Falcons between 1996 and 2001, playing in both the 1997-98 championship side and the 2001 Tetley's Bitter Cup-winning team before a neck injury forced his retirement.

The winner of 21 Irish caps, on his return to his native New Zealand the former Auckland skipper was promptly snapped up by All Blacks supremo John Mitchell as his lineout coach, a post he held until Mitchell was sacked following last year's World Cup.

"I am delighted that Ross has signed a three-year contract as our forwards coach. He is perfect for the job and I am really looking forward to working with him again," said Andrew today.

Nesdale is equally enthusiastic about re-joining the Falcons and he said from his Auckland home today: "This is a brilliant opportunity for me and my family, who know and love Newcastle - all three of my children were born there.

"I know all about the rugby culture which makes Newcastle different from all other English clubs and although the club has obviously changed since I left in 2001, the important key areas like Rob (Andrew) and Steve (Black) are still the same.

"I have signed a three-year deal and see this is a fantastic opportunity for growth at Kingston Park. The Falcons have lost a lot of games by only a small margin this season but with a little bit of tweaking here and there, I firmly believe we can put that right.

"The team showed what they can do by winning the Powergen Cup and the prospect of playing in the Heineken Cup is a massive incentive for everyone next season."

In addition to Nesdale, the Falcons have also signed Mike McCarthy, a 22-year-old former England Under-21 lock/blindside flanker from Connacht.

At 6ft 4in and weighing 112kg, McCarthy is seen primarily as a No 6 and will strengthen the Newcastle back five following the departure of Jon Dunbar to Leeds Tykes.

"Mike is a very exciting player with great potential and he will increase our options and strength in depth in the back five," said Andrew.

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