Rory Clegg has drawn a line in the sand after a difficult first season back at Newcastle Falcons – the England Saxons cap confident better things are around the corner.
A product of the Falcons academy who left for Harlequins in 2009 and returned last summer, the 24-year-old is fully focused on improving what he acknowledges was a below-par contribution.
Making seven Premiership starts and a further six league appearances from the bench, the Barnard Castle School old boy will battle with Phil Godman and Juan Pablo Socino for the No 10 shirt this season following Joel Hodgson’s move to Northampton Saints.
Holding his hands up after the Falcons’ 11th-place finish last term, Clegg said: “We didn’t end up where we wanted to and there were a lot of things to improve on.
“I had quite a disappointing season, but looking forward I am extremely positive about the new things happening at the club.
“Everybody is excited about the fresh coaching set-up, the new pitch we are hoping will come in and the new players.
“Everyone has picked themselves up and we are optimistic about the future.
“For me, I am just parking last season.
“It was not particularly great from my perspective, so I am looking forward to everything to come.”
Clegg and his team-mates are entering their second full week of pre-season training, the German-born stand-off having taken himself to Africa during the summer recess.
He added: “I went away with the Mrs to Egypt but it was a bit too hot for me.
“I was happy to return and get back to the English climate if I am honest, but it was a good chance to relax.
“I spent most of the time underneath the umbrella but now it is back into the proper work.”
Having gone through the ordeal of scheduled fitness testing upon his return, Clegg revealed: “We came back in for two days before last week just to get all of the admin out of the way and were back in last Monday for testing.
“There are a lot of nerves knocking around on the day of a yo-yo test, which is absically an extended bleep test, but it is a good one to get out of the way.
“Everyone now is just getting their head down and training hard.
“The lads will want to beat their scores at the end of pre-season and there is that natural competition among the group.”
Clegg is among the many players expecting to benefit from Dave Walder’s addition to the coaching team, the former Falcons and England fly-half having been brought in to lead the side’s attacking play.
“With Wellsy now head coach and Dave in as attack coach they are implementing their thoughts on how we are going to play the game,” he said, predicting a quicker and more open style.
“Mine and Dave’s philosophy on rugby is very much the same and it is great to be working with him on this basis now.
“Our attacking game will come on quite a lot under him and it is very much a case of simplifying things and trying to play to people’s strengths.
“He is an ambitious guy with a lot of positive, attacking thoughts about the team. He played up here for years so he knows the conditions, he knows the club and is a vastly experienced Premiership fly-half.
“There is a lot I can learn from him and it is great both for myself and the rest of the lads he is on board in this new role.”