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The 3 things Richards looks for when unearthing Newcastle talent

By Liam Heagney

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Dean Richards has explained his three-pronged criteria when scouting potential recruits for Newcastle, the Gallagher Premiership club who this week celebrated having four players from the region called into the England squad by Eddie Jones. Whereas previously during the Australian’s tenure back-rower Mark Wilson used to be the sole Falcons pick for England Test duty, the club’s fortunes have been transformed in recent times. 

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Monday’s latest 34-strong squad picked by Jones featured the inclusion of a Newcastle-based quartet, a level of representation that was just one player less than the five which the chart-topping Leicester managed and it was on a par with the contributions Exeter, Northampton and Bath will give to the national team cause. 

It was July when Adam Radwan, the 23-year-old winger from Teesside, Trevor Davison, the 29-year-old prop from the city of Newcastle, Jamie Blamire, the 23-year-old hooker from Cumbria, and Callum Chick, the 24-year-old back-rower from Ponteland, all made their England debuts. 

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At the time, Jones had enthused to RugbyPass about the forensic work being done by Richards towards getting a certain type of player to play consistently well in the Premiership. “Dean has got an uncanny eye to pick out talent,” explained the England boss. 

“They usually come through unusual pathways, not the usual way with (England) 16s, 18s, the 20s. They usually come through a more diverged pathway and he has got an eye for that talent. They have played consistently well and they are being rewarded for their performances.”

What does that ‘uncanny eye’ involve, though? Asked by RugbyPass, Richards outlined what he looks for when he goes out unearthing unheralded talent for Newcastle… and ultimately for England. “First of all whether they have got the physical ability, whether they have got the right mental approach and mentally whether they are able to take things in to carry out what is asked of them. It’s pretty simple really. 

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“They don’t have to tick all three boxes. They might only tick two of the boxes, but if they tick one they will find it incredibly difficult unless they are just an unbelievable physical specimen in which case they would probably be a prop.”

With Newcastle having started the season encouragingly with three wins from their five matches so far, there would have been an expectation that their best players would be involved in next month’s three-game England campaign. It meant there was no massive training ground celebration last Monday when Jones confirmed his latest squad. The reaction, though, was much different in the summer when the Newcastle contingent got its first call-up. 

“The biggest buzz was going into the summer series and the boys getting the call-up,” added Richards. “There was Sean Robinson as well and everybody was just delighted for them. It’s just a shame that Sean got injured when he did, otherwise the England boys would have seen a bit more of him. He has been exceptional as well this year.”

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The 3 things Richards looks for when unearthing Newcastle talent

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