Alex Codling: 'I have never been 0-6, so I'm new to this'
New Newcastle boss Alex Codling has insisted that he made the right decision to quit French rugby and take over the bottom team in the Gallagher Premiership despite having to deal with a six-game run of defeats for the first time in his career.
Codling was in Paris on Monday to join his former fellow Oyonnax coaches to collect the staff of the season award for helping the club win promotion from Pro D2 to the high-profile Top14 where they have won three of their opening seven games to sit above big spending clubs like Montpellier and Lyon.
While his former club are preparing to take on Montpellier next Saturday, Codling’s Newcastle will face Exeter Chiefs at home on Sunday and the head coach was brutally honest about the team’s winless start to their Premiership campaign.
“I have never been 0-6, so I’m new to this and I am trying to drive things forward and we had really good energy from guys who came in to face Sale,” he said. “Looking from the outside, you probably think it is all doom and gloom but it is the complete opposite.
“There is no regret. I made the decision to leave Oyonnax and I loved working with the staff and players there. Seeing them on Monday brought back incredible memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
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“Of course it is tough (at Newcastle) but life is about challenges and it will take time. We have the least experienced squad in the Premiership.
“If you arrived from the moon you would probably think we are a flop with nothing going for us, but we have had chances in those matches and we have been very competitive except for the Saracens match.”
Codling will name more youngsters in his lineup following their encouraging performance at league leaders Sale where they only trailed 26-22 with five minutes remaining before eventually going down 40-22.
For example, Ben Redshaw, their 18-year-old full-back, will get another outing against a Chiefs side that is also giving youth its chance following the departure of big-name players such as brothers Sam and Joe Simmonds and Jack Nowell, who are now all playing in France.
“It is great for the club to be able to bring on young players,” reckoned Codling. “I genuinely feel we are close (to a win). Exeter bringing in young players is a blueprint for us going forward. We have to be unbelievably physical against Exeter and they have really good line speed in defence and have to be smart.”
Argentina winger Mateo Carreras is still a couple of weeks away from being ready to play after damaging his hamstring. Codling explained: “He is an A-grade race horse and I have to make sure he comes back in the best possible shape.”
Sunday’s home game with Exeter will see Wor Flags, who supply the massive banners seen at St James’s Park for Newcastle United’s football matches, delivering one for the Falcons fans to unfurl at Kingston Park.
“We have always looked to be inventive and want to entertain on and off the pitch,” enthused Codling. “I’m excited to see it on Sunday.”