AS he heads home to New Zealand, Peter Russell insists he has no regrets about joining Newcastle Falcons.
Two years into his tenure, the Kiwi is heading home to try to nail down a job with Super 15 side the Hurricanes, adamant he is better for the experience of life at Kingston Park.
“I will take back fond memories of Newcastle, and my time at the Falcons,” said the former Hawke’s Bay boss, who helped steer Newcastle to the Championship title before managing to keep them up in their first season back at the top table.
“I will also take back lots of memories of snow but, all joking aside, it has been a great experience.” A reshuffled management team sees forwards coach John Wells stepping into Russell’s head coaching role, Dave Walder’s place on the staff being formalised as the former stand-off comes in as attack coach.
There seems no bitterness on Russell’s part, the homeward-bound boss stating: “I believe I have benefited from my time at Newcastle.
“We have seen the boys keep challenging themselves to be better, and that is definitely something I will take from this whole experience.”
Well aware results have not come up to scratch as his side sit winless in the league since October, the former fly-half is not shying away from the stats.
“You cannot lose the fact that we have not won many games,” he said.
“Winning brings people through the gates and puts points on the board, so it has been challenging in terms of dealing with that.”
Strengthened by the character he has seen around Kingston Park during the tough times, he added: “The big thing here is that no matter if it was a horrible day and we had suffered a thrashing that weekend, it only took us a day to get back on board.
“That is a credit to the players and the coaching group, and after some down faces on a long bus ride home, they just got back on the horse straightaway.
“That is the beauty of sport. You can’t keep looking back because it catches up with you.
“You have to look forward and not use a defeat as negative feedback, but as a positive opportunity to learn and really drive the team forward.
“The team has grown with that, even if people haven’t always seen it on the pitch.”
Now concentrating on his next move and the race to succeed former All Black hooker Mark Hammett as head coach of the Wellington-based Hurricanes, Russell revealed: “That is my main focus at the moment.
“Applications for the Hurricanes job closed last week, and I said I wanted to be back or talking to them before I get home.”
Meanwhile, Northumberland lost their successive game of the County Championship’s Division One season, losing 35-31 at Cheshire, despite a pair of tries each from Pete Weightman and Olly Foster, and one from Shaun English.
Durham were 37-13 winners at Eastern Counties in Division Two, having been relegated last season.