Newcastle Falcons’ flying winger Sinoti Sinoti says there’s absolutely no room for complacency in the new Greene King IPA Championship season.
The Falcons are competing in the Championship for the first time since 2012-13, having been relegated from the Gallagher Premiership at the end of last season.
Six years ago they were promoted at the first time of asking, in Dean Richards’ first season in charge, Sinoti joining in December 2013 back in the Premiership.
That’s given the elusive 33-year-old plenty of time to get to know Richards, and you can certainly imagine the fearsome former England No.8 has left no mixed messages in what’s required this year.
“Everyone’s going 200 percent and my best is only 150! No, in all seriousness everyone’s trying to put their best foot forward in terms of selection, they want to be in that XV, or that 23,” said Sinoti, speaking from the Greene King IPA Championship launch event at Twickenham Stadium ahead of the 2019/20 season.
“It’s quite serious at the moment. To be honest things are going really well and the boys are really grafting.
“Obviously last season was a disappointing one for us but from the boys are looking to take it to another level and just get straight back up.
“Training wise everyone’s pushing, even the young boys, the old lads, everyone’s looking to train really well for one goal, and you know what goal that is.
“We’ve lost a few players as you do, a few players used their clause which is completely up to them.
“We’ve signed some new lads which is good, and teams are never going to be the same, that’s the way rugby is, the new boys have fitted in really well actually.
“It’s a long pre-season and we’ll get to know each other a lot more.”
Those players lost include England flanker Mark Wilson, now at Sale on a season loan. Full-back Simon Hammersley has made the same move but permanently, while Niki Goneva is at Quins and Calum Green joins Tigers.
Back row and second row forward Philip van der Walt has come in from South Africa’s Sharks, Cooper Vuna from Bath and Darren Barry from Worcester.
Many Falcons fans will no doubt be looking forward to seeing Sinoti, impossible to tackle in the Premiership at times, running at Championship defences, but the wing insists the going won’t be easy.
He added: “You have to earn the respect to send the ball wide. This is not an easy tournament for us to even go wide-to-wide, we have to make a dent up front. If we’re going forwards with that respect then we can play wide – you can’t just attack wide early.
“I think it’s going to be so tough. Teams are not going to lay down and expect us to come and step all over them, they’re going to want to turn us over first and foremost.
“It’s not going to be a walk in the park this league and our first target is the first six games, they’re so crucial in going forwards but no game is going to be easy.”
The Greene King IPA Championship is the second tier of professional rugby in England. To keep up to date with the latest news and features follow @ChampRugby on Twitter