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Newcastle make a Pollard, Ford understudy their sixth new signing

By Liam Heagney
New Newcastle signing Kieran Wilkinson (Photo by Patrick Khachfe/Getty Images)

Steve Diamond’s recruitment drive at bottom club Newcastle has taken another step towards the 2024/25 season with the recruitment of Kieran Wilkinson, the former England age-grade out-half who has shadowed Handre Pollard and George Ford in recent years.

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The Falcons are rooted to 10th and last place in the current Gallagher Premiership campaign, but the capture of Wilkinson is the club’s sixth signing ahead of what will be their first full campaign with Diamond at the helm following last January’s sacking of Alex Codling.

A statement read: “Leicester Tigers fly-half Kieran Wilkinson will join Newcastle Falcons in the summer, with the 24-year-old arriving on a one-year deal. Wilkinson started for the Tigers in Friday’s home victory over Georgia’s Black Lion, kicking 100 per cent from the tee in the 21-13 triumph.

“Capped by England at U20s, 18s, and 16s levels, the Kirkham Grammar School graduate made his senior breakthrough with Sale Sharks, whose former director of rugby Steve Diamond is delighted to be reunited with him at Newcastle.

Wilkinson becomes the Falcons’ sixth confirmed signing for next season, following the announcements of Gloucester wing/centre Alex Hearle, Edinburgh prop Luan de Bruin, Sale flanker Cameron Neild, and England Students props Callum and Connor Hancock.

Fixture
Gallagher Premiership
Newcastle
17 - 28
Full-time
Bath
All Stats and Data

“The players who are coming here in the first instance are lads that I know, and who understand how I work,” explained Diamond.

“Kieran is worldly-wise for his age, and even though it looks like he hasn’t played much rugby in the last two years you have got to remember he has been learning every day from George Ford at Sale and Handre Pollard at Leicester.

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“He has been sitting behind two world-class 10s and is coming here with a viewpoint to push on and get himself in our first team. Kieran has that hard-working attitude that I demand, and he is a good player.

“He has got a strong kicking game, he controls the play and he is a good kid. I like what he brings to an environment, I’m really pleased to be able to bring him in – and it’s also not a bad surname for a fly-half at Newcastle!”

Wilkinson added: “I’m really excited about joining Newcastle. It’s a great club, some of my heroes when I was a kid played up there and I have always had a soft spot for them.

“It’s a fantastic city as well, so on and off the field I’m really pumped about getting up there in the summer and helping get the club back up to where it should be.

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“I have not played too much rugby because we have obviously got Handre Pollard, and as you would expect from a two-time World Cup winner he has got the No10 shirt nailed down. That is obviously frustrating in one sense because as a player you want to be involved in games.

“But on the same token, it has been great just to learn from him every day in training and see how he goes about everything. I feel like I will be a better player for having had that experience, and I have now got this great challenge up at Newcastle to get my teeth into.

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“I’d like to think I bring an attacking mindset to the game. The players I enjoy watching are the likes of Finn Russell, Marcus Smith and, back in the day, Danny Cipriani. I’m not saying I play exactly like those kinds of guys, but I like to be creative and to get the attack firing.

“In terms of working again with Steve, he signed me as a teenager for Sale and I have got massive respect for the way he goes about things.

“He is the perfect man for the job up at Newcastle and I’m really looking forward to playing under him. It’s a new set-up, new players and a massive opportunity, so I’m buzzing to get up there.”

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