Balding keen for shark hunt

Newcastle Falcons new boy Adam Balding is relishing the prospect of his Kingston Park debut, against Sale Sharks this Sunday (kick-off 3pm).

The former Gloucester captain and Leicester back rower, who has starred in all three of the club’s pre-season friendlies, said: “It’s always tough comparing different clubs, but I’ve come up here and this is one of the hardest pre-season programmes I’ve ever gone through.

“Each set-up I have been to has been different in many ways, they all have their unique aspects and Newcastle is no different in that regard.

“It’s been absolutely hectic, very hard work but really enjoyable nonetheless. The boys are all looking in excellent shape, the spirit is very good and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve experienced so far up here.

“There is a lot of competition already in the back row, and a lot more to come with guys like Ross Beattie coming back from injury as well as the quality young players pushing hard for selection.

“It’s always a long hard season in the Guinness Premiership though, so you need the depth of talent we have got in that area which also drives the competition for places even when everyone is fit.”

Balding has struggled to fulfil his early potential after failign to establish himself at both his former clubs as he looksforward to his 11th season as a professional player, but insisted the Falcons fans are going to see the best of him:

“I think they can expect a very honest player,” he said. “I pride myself on my work ethic and an uncompromising style of play, very direct in attack and defence, and with hard work I hope to bring those qualities to the Newcastle team when I’m given the chance.

“It’s hard to believe this is my 11th pre-season, but I feel as fit as I’ve ever been and really hungry for this new challenge. Touch wood, I’m injury-free at the moment, so I’m just keeping my head down, working hard in training and we’ll see what happens from there.

“For any player I think it’s the same, you just want to concentrate 100 per cent on the bread and butter aspects of your game, help your team and be involved as much as you can in the games.”

With a tough test in Sale Sharks first up, Balding said: “I’ve played against Sale many times and had a number of physical encounters with Monsieur Chabal, which is always good fun, and we know what a fantastic side they can be.

“They are full of experience and talent, but it’s 15 versus 15 and we are confident in the players we have and what they can do out there on the field.”