The destiny of Newcastle Falcons’ latest crop of young talent is in their own hands, says Calum MacRae.
At tomorrow’s Premiership Rugby Sevens, he urges them to grasp it.
Having won the trophy in 2011 but been prohibited from defending it following relegation to the Championship, the Falcons contest Group B – with Northampton Saints, Leicester Tigers and Sale Sharks – at Franklin’s Gardens.
Group A plays out today, Group C on Saturday. Two clubs from each progress to next Friday’s finals, in Bath.
Though Richard Mayhew is captain in a squad also comprising Tom Catterick, Joel Hodgson and Michael Tait, it is otherwise made up of inexperienced youngsters.
Ollie Hodgson, Sean Brown, Ben Morris, Glen Young, Andy Davies and Simon Hammersley are joined by England Students back-row Harrison Collins and England Counties full-back Chris Harris.
And Sevens head coach MacRae is eager to see them make the most of their opportunity.
“Experience-wise, we’ve got four senior players and eight from the academy so, yes, it’s preparation for the new season, but ultimately it’ll be a chance to look at how the younger guys are getting on,” he said.
“For a lot of them it’ll be their first experience of senior professional rugby. There are a lot of local lads involved – the average age of the squad is 21.
“It shows there’s a crop of young talent at the club.
“They’ve been given the opportunity to wear the Falcons jersey for the first time.
“They’re representing the club so it’s ultimately up to them and I’m sure and hope they’ll do very well.
“They’ve been training well, the group’s got a good work ethic and hopefully we’ll see that transfer on to the field. We’re confident in our ability, providing we work hard. Sevens is about graft.”
MacRae added: “It was nice winning in 2011.
“It was a very different squad, we had a lot of experience then and we’d have liked to have been able to defend our title.
“As the competition’s set up, we weren’t able to.
“But it’s important as a new group, their destiny’s in their own hands and we’re not looking beyond the first game against Northampton on Friday night. They’ve got a bit of experience and pedigree in there, mixed with age group internationals. Leicester have too.
“They’ve been given the opportunity, as have our youngsters, and they’ll all be keen to stake a claim and impress the first team coaches for the future.”
Falcons squad: 1 Harrison Collins, 2 Ben Morris, 3 Richard Mayhew (c), 4 Glen Young, 5 Michael Tait, 6 Tom Catterick, 7 Ollie Hodgson, 8 Chris Harris, 9 Andy Davies, 10 Joel Hodgson, 11 Sean Brown, 12 Simon Hammersley.