Phil Godman is taking nothing for granted when it comes to nailing down Newcastle Falcons’ No 10 shirt.
The 31-year-old Scot has been brought back to Kingston Park as part of the plan for life after Jimmy Gopperth, nine years after leaving for Edinburgh.
Harlequins’ Rory Clegg has followed suit by re-joining his former team, while homegrown prospect Joel Hodgson remains on hand after helping the club back to the Aviva Premiership at the first attempt.
Which one of the three lines up for the televised season-opener at home to Bath on September 6 is as yet unknown – to Godman, at least.
The pragmatic fly-half said: “There is always competition, and in terms of the fly-half shirt for the Falcons this season there is certainly plenty of that.
“Jimmy had a great four years here and I am sure everybody recognises that, but he is gone now and things have changed.
“Myself and Cleggy have come back to the club, Joel is here challenging and both of those guys are quality players. I have enjoyed working with them in the training we have had so far, and in terms of who gets the shirt it is just a case of seeing what happens.”
Pre-season games against Connacht at home (August 24) and Edinburgh away (August 30) should give a clearer idea, while The Journal also understands the Falcons may be headed to France for a friendly against a fellow English club, pending confirmation.
One of four Scottish players added this summer to a squad already brimming with talent from north of the border, Godman joked: “I knew there were a few Scottish boys here, but with the signings we have made since then I think we are taking over.
“We tried to set up a Scottish clique, but it was hard because there were too many of us!
“All joking aside, the number of Scottish players at Newcastle was not a factor in me deciding to sign for the club, and it seems more coincidence than any conscious design. Obviously the Falcons have always had close links with the Borders, as you would expect given the geography, and there are a fair few of us here now.”
Having competed against Newcastle last season during his one-and-only year at London Scottish, he added: “I really enjoyed it, actually. I played in the game up here in December, when we lost 12-9 in the gale-force wind, but I missed the try-fest down there in September.
“Both matches between the two clubs were interesting, in very different ways. The one down there was tries and bonus points all round, and then up here it was a very attritional battle.
“Overall playing for London Scottish was a bit of a change from Edinburgh. It was different, but it was good to get some game-time after what was a pretty serious knee injury. Their obvious affiliation with Scotland made it a natural destination, but I am delighted to be back in the Premiership with Newcastle now and very much looking forward to the season.”
Determined not to create added pressure with public proclamations about the season ahead, Godman said: “We have not really talked about targets as yet, in terms of putting a number on it.
“I think the approach just has to be to look after the performance every time we take the field, and that is the way in which you get results.
“Obviously with being back in the Premiership every single week is going to be a tough game, and we know we need to be at or near to our very best to stand a chance. If we do that then we shouldn’t have a problem, and the attitude the boys are showing in training is all going in the right direction.”