Toby Flood says Newcastle Falcons will try to neutralise Montpellier’s power game when they travel to the south of France for Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup clash.
The Falcons have already beaten Montpellier once this season thanks to a remarkable winning try eight minutes into added time at Kingston Park Stadium back in October, Callum Chick eventually grounding the ball from a 38-phase passage of play.
“They’re a star-studded squad with one of the biggest budgets in France, if not the biggest, but as we showed by beating them at Kingston Park, if you do things well and get your game right, they’re beatable,” said Flood, who spent three seasons with Toulouse before re-joining his home town club in the summer of 2017.
“They’re big human beings, to put it mildly – they’re strong, and they’ve got a certain way of playing.
“Don’t get me wrong, they can light it up as well as using their power game, but it’s all about generating that go-forward through their big pack and their defensive aggression. They want to bottle you up and stop you from playing, and to make it a bit of a fight.
“It’s a tough one and we have to be clever about how we try to play around them, and what we do with our ball in play. Being able to bludgeon a team is not the sexiest rugby in the world, but it’s exciting to have the challenge of trying to combat that with our own style.”
Eligible for selection this weekend after missing the home loss to Harlequins with a head knock, the 60-times-capped fly-half explained: “It was a bit of an odd one because I actually felt fine at end of the Bristol game, and it wasn’t until the back end of last week that I began to feel unwell and a little bit unsteady.
“That’s behind me now though, the medical staff have been great as always and all the necessary tests and protocols have been passed without any problem for this weekend, so I’m available if selected.”
Newcastle have already won on French soil this season courtesy of their round-one triumph in Toulon, Flood insisting his side have a virtual free hit against a Montpellier side packed with international stars.
“Not many people go over to these big French teams expecting to get a result, but we’ve done it already this season in Toulon and we’ve got nothing to lose,” he said.
“We’ve still got a chance of going through to the quarter-finals so it’s really important we go over there and give a good account of ourselves, and as Castres proved in the Top 14 final last season, Montpellier can be vulnerable.
“It’s a great place to play, it’s a lovely town and I’m sure our supporters who are heading over there will have a brilliant weekend.
“But it’s an odd place at times, and if the fans don’t feel their team are performing they will start to turn on them, which is really important factor for us to remember. If we’re ahead at half-time they’ll get booed off or it will be near silence, and it’s a great challenge for us to go over to France again and try to record another victory.”
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