Sean Brown says Newcastle Falcons’ work ethic and unity can give them the edge in tomorrow’s Premiership Rugby 7s in Darlington.
The Falcons have gone mainly for youth as they face an evening of round-robin action against Leicester Tigers, London Welsh and Sale Sharks, the top two on the night qualifying for the finals in London in a week’s time.
Brown, a former Sunderland academy goalkeeper who did not even pick up a rugby ball until the age of 15, said: “We are all about working hard for each other, and that mentality can give us the edge.
“We all know we are not the greatest sevens players in the world, so our training has been about giving ourselves a main structure.
“Obviously we will adapt on the move to what is happening out there, but we have that foundation and everybody knows their roles.
“We pride ourselves on the fact that, while we might not be the flashiest of sevens sides, we go out there and work hard for each other.
“That reflects what the Falcons are about as a club, and that collective graft is what pulls us through.”
Tomorrow’s tournament has been moved to the Northern Echo Arena due to delays in installing Newcastle’s new synthetic pitch, and it is not only the Falcons who are showcasing North East talent.
London Welsh have named Darlington Mowden Park’s England sevens international Aaron Myers in their squad, which also includes Tynedale pair Ben Frankland and Hamish Smales.
All three have shone on the invitational circuit for Suzuki Wailers, from whom Leicester have also drawn a number of their players.
Strong early sales suggest a crowd in excess of 4,000 will be on hand for the tournament, which starts at 7pm and will be shown live on BT Sport.
Brown believes those in attendance are in for a treat, the shortened format of the game seeing no paucity of tries and excitement at events like last weekend’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
He said: “From a supporters’ point of view it is fast and entertaining with a lot of tries and clean breaks, and we saw with the Commonwealth Games how much the fans love it.
“You see more skills out in the open than you would in 15s, and people are getting behind that.
“It all builds towards the Premiership as people develop a greater understanding of rugby as a sport, and after watching a bit of sevens they get to understand more about the laws and the tactics.
“For the players it is a great way to show the first-team coaches what you are about, and it is a big stage with the crowd and all the entertainment going on around the matches themselves.
“It is basically an insight into what the Premiership is like, and for the younger lads that is ideal.”
He added: “It is not as serious in the sense you can express yourself more, and from a coaching perspective it gives the management a chance to see how people handle the pressure of a big occasion.
“The fitness demands of sevens are incredible, and hit you straightaway.
“Every skill is examined under a microscope, and things like one-on-one tackling are tested in much more open spaces with fewer players around you to step in and help.
“You are exposed, which you don’t always see in 15s, and it is great for sharpening the tools of your game when you back into it.”
Showing no concerns at the channge of venue as the Falcons gain brand exposure south of their traditional home base, Brown said: “I have played a couple of games down there before, and it is an unreal ground.
“It should be a great tournament, and the field looks really competitive.
“We believe we have a squad that can go on and win the whole thing.
“We have more strength in depth to our squad now for when injuries happen, and a good balance between physicality and pace.
“We have got a great record of young guys coming through, and the club are excellent at giving us a chance. It is a showcase to say this is what we have got in our academy, and we are not just shipping a load of boys in.
“For our fans it shows there is going to be strength in the squad for years to come.
“It keeps the first-team on their toes because we all want to step up, and competition is healthy for the overall environment.”