Steve Diamond outlines Newcastle Falcons blueprint

Steve Diamond outlines Newcastle Falcons blueprint

Consultant director of rugby Steve Diamond says he is determined to restore a hard edge to Newcastle Falcons as he takes the reins at the Gallagher Premiership’s most northerly club.


Setting the short-term goal of improving his side’s basics and the longer-term aim of making Kingston Park a beacon for rugby in the region, Diamond insists he is aware of the size of the task in hand.


“It’s a great opportunity to try and put some consistency in the building,” said Diamond, who played more than 300 games for Sale Sharks, spending in excess of a decade there as a coach before recent spells with Worcester Warriors and Edinburgh.


“The current players and coaches will be given an opportunity to prove themselves over the remainder of this season, and then we’ll move into the summer and what comes beyond that.


“I’ve been consulting for a while now and I think it works well, compiling a report for the owner just to see where we’re at. I’ll be honest and candid about the playing and coaching ability that’s here in the building, and how we can move forward.


“If that process goes well then I’ll sit down with the owners and discuss staying longer term, but initially it’s a shorter arrangement with a view to going on for three or so years.”


Asked about his initial impressions and how he sees the role, Diamond said: “For where we are in the league and where we are confidence-wise, we need to build that up.


“We need to get some belief back in the squad and some consistency around what we’re doing. We need a hard edge back in the building, because from watching the games that’s certainly been lacking, and I’m looking forward to doing that.


“The way the fixture list is at this time of year with breaking for the Six Nations is ideal for me as a new guy coming in, because it gives me the time to get a feel for it and to work with the players and coaches here. It’s like a mini pre-season, really, and over these six or seven weeks I’ll get a real understanding of what the attitude is like here and how we can improve it.


“My early impressions of the set-up at the club are actually very positive, and I think there’s a great foundation here.


“The guys train every day on the pitch that they play on, they’ve had a new state-of-the-art gym built here at the stadium by a well-respected company, they’ve got everything they need from a video analysis point of view and it’s actually a good set-up. Fair enough, you can’t do anything about the weather up in the North East when it’s blowing a gale like today, but we’ve removed a lot of excuses from the players and staff by having the infrastructure as good as it is.


“The staff are all really keen and I’ve been impressed by the enthusiasm around the place. We need to move away from a blame culture, and you won’t find me whingeing in the media about not having this or that. We need to focus on finding solutions for why we’ve been as poor as we’ve been this season, if we’re honest, and put those solutions into play.


“You can’t ignore the facts. We’ve got the worst line-out in the league, the worst scrum, we’ve conceded the most tries and scored the fewest. What I will say, in a number of categories and in a number of games, we’ve been really close, and by making small improvements in some of those key areas we can make some sizeable gains and really push on.


“That’s the exciting part of the job for me, and I’d expect a real positivity around the place from people who want to prove they’re committed to being part of a successful club up here. I wouldn’t have got involved unless I thought I could change that, but I’m really excited about what we can do for this club, which has a really proud history and very committed owners.”


Adamant about the need for financial stability having been in charge at Worcester Warriors when they went out of business, Diamond insists he is coming to Newcastle with his eyes wide open, fully aware of the off-field picture.


“Having went through what I went through at Worcester, that was obviously the first question I asked of Matt Thompson and Semore Kurdi when I sat down with them to discuss the possibility of me coming up here,” he said.


“They enthused about the long-term prospects for the Falcons, how proud they are about their families owning the business for many decades now and how they want it to be a sustainable business for many more decades to come. They know I operate well in that model, and they were all very honest conversations.


“We won’t spend as much as the other clubs, but that’s the right thing for us. With the number of kids we have coming through our origin regions – Durham, Tyne and Wear, Cumbria and Northumberland – there’s no other part of the country that produces the talent we do.


“I’m looking forward to building a predominantly young, English team which wins at home on a regular basis, and we need to make it a nightmare for visiting teams to come up here.


“I’ve experienced it myself – I’ve had some right hidings at Kingston Park over the years – and that’s the mentality we need to get back to.


“For the top local players who are coming through here, as well as being a great club in its own right it’s also a place where young talent will get regular game time in the Premiership. They can go to other clubs and sit on the bench or in the stands – and those clubs are all sniffing around our players – or they can stay here, start games and represent their local region.


“Some lads will move on, which is perfectly natural and you wish them well, but a big selling point up here is going to be giving regular game time to our best young lads coming through.”


A proud northerner who has long advocated for rugby in this region, Diamond added: “The RFU see it as a geographical necessity to have a strong presence up here, but even setting that to one side, similar to where I’m from in Manchester, it’s a very hard, working class city.


“Newcastle city centre is fantastic, I’ll see more of the rest of the region as I go along up here, but it’s a region that breeds hard people. I want to find as many of those as I can in this neck of the woods and get them to play rugby, and that’s what it’s all about.


“The long-term plans are all well and good, and really important, but there’s also a short-term challenge here.


“We’ve got six league games between now and the end of the season, and I want to see us being competitive in them all. If we don’t win we get a bonus point, and I want us to be really awkward to play against, especially at home, because teams should hate coming here.


“I don’t want them to think Newcastle are just rubbing rags at the bottom of the league, and we need to bring that hard edge which the club has been famous for in previous years.


“I want to see as much legal violence as possible so that people know you’ve got to be a good team to win at Kingston Park, and that work starts now.”

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