PETER Stringer is ignoring all talk of relegation as Newcastle Falcons prepare to host Saracens on Friday night.
The Irish veteran spent three months on loan at the Aviva Premiership champions earlier this season, and has shone for the Falcons as wins over Sale Sharks and Gloucester narrowed the gap between themselves and London Wasps to just four points.
Refusing to be sidetracked by talk of the drop, the 98-times-capped scrum-half said: “A lot of people had written us off, and maybe still are writing us off, but it all adds to your character when you are given no chance.
“People on the outside put you down constantly, and while you do try to avoid it the fact remains that the talk is out there in the public domain.
“We have tried to ignore all the stuff about our situation at the bottom of the league, and any off-field factors elsewhere which could come into play.
“Within our squad the mentality is good, the confidence and ambition are there and we are just quietly working away on winning our remaining games. If it comes off then all well and good, but we are honest enough to admit that we are still in a pretty dire position.”
The two-time Heineken Cup winner has looked rejuvenated in a Falcons shirt after slipping down the pecking order at Munster, where he will return this summer after signing a one-year contract extension.
“I am absolutely loving my rugby at the moment, and since the first day that I got here I have been impressed by the facilities, the players and the camaraderie,” said Stringer.
“I have got on really well here, and it is all about getting game time. That is why I came to England, and as a professional you just build your confidence the more time you get on the field.”
Revealing no clause in his loan agreement preventing him from playing against his former club, he said: “There has been no issue in terms of being allowed to play on Friday, and we all know it is a massive game for the Falcons.
“It is great to be back at Kingston Park for my second match, and it is also going to be my last home game for the club so I am determined to sign off on a positive note.”
Against a Saracens side knocked out of the Heineken Cup quarter-finals by Clermont the weekend before last, the 34-year-old added: “They haven’t had the greatest form over the past few weeks, but just as we are fighting for Premiership rugby they are fighting for play-off positions at the other end of the table.
“Saracens are a great club and a successful team, though, and you would have to be to win a competition as tough as this one.
“They have good coaches, players and strong structures in place, and the work ethic they have is superb. I could also say the same about Newcastle, and the players really want to do well up here.
“I am just trying to add whatever I can to the Falcons’ set-up, and hopefully the lessons I picked up with both Saracens and Munster can be of use to the club.”
Meanwhile, the Falcons have confirmed that Orion will be their official kit suppliers from next season. Ran by former Falcons and Scotland lock Richard Metcalfe, Orion replace Cotton Traders as the club’s shirt manufacturers, with the new design being revealed later today.
Falcons forwards Euan Murray and Taiasina Tu’ifua could be on collision course when Murray’s Scotland take on Samoa in Apia on Saturday June 23. The Scots also face Australia in Newcastle, New South Wales, on June 5, and Fiji in Lautoka on June 16.
Blaydon’s Ben Morris and Darlington Mowden Park’s Pierce Philips have been named in the England Counties Under-20s squad to take on Scotland Under-20s at St Andrews University on Friday, May 4.