With Newcastle Falcons set to embark on their fourth consecutive European Rugby Challenge Cup campaign, new boy Ben Sowrey will make his debut for the club in a marquee tie at Ospreys.
Sowrey joined the Falcons from Worcester Warriors during the summer and has yet to make Dean Richards’ starting XV, but that changes on Friday night as the hooker gets his chance against the high-flying Welsh region.
Aviva Premiership Rugby’s Falcons travel to Ospreys to open their Challenge Cup season, in a pool that also features Lyon and Grenoble – last season’s losing semi-finalist.
But Sowrey is relishing the chance to make a name for himself at Newcastle, where he has settled in quickly.
“I’m absolutely loving it up here,” said the 25-year-old. “I’ve settled in real good. The Mrs has moved up and she’s got herself a job.
“We’re quite close to the club and everything has fallen into place lovely – I’m really enjoying it.
“The lads are a good bunch and everything is going pretty smoothly at the minute.”
Sowrey played five Challenge Cup fixtures for Warriors last season, and has been passing on his knowledge whenever called upon.
Falcons themselves finished second in the pool in last season’s competition, winning three and losing three of their European fixtures.
But Sowrey feels, even with the challenging pool they find themselves in, Falcons have what it takes to qualify for the knockout stages.
“We’re massively excited,” he added. “I think we can do really well. We’re really going to make a go of it and see how far we can progress in the competition.
“We’re up against some real good teams in Ospreys, Grenoble and Lyon, but I’m sure we can match them and we’re all looking forward to it – champing at the bit.
“Most of the young lads are just keen to get it all underway and get ahead with it.
“I’ve been liaising with the coaches on bits and pieces, and they’ve formed a bit of a leadership group so I’m trying to contribute as much as I can – that’s as far as it’s gone really.
“We’ve definitely got what it takes to get out of the group and we’re going to give it a hell of a go. I think Ospreys offer a hell of a lot and we’ll start off with them and then take each game as it comes.
“If we can match Ospreys’ physicality and some of the elements of the game they bring, then we can be successful against them.”
And while some players would prefer to be eased in gently, Sowrey is itching to get going in what is sure to be a test of the Falcons’ prowess.
“It’s my first start for Newcastle and I’m massively proud,” he said. “It’s something that I’ve been working towards since the summer.
“It’s a huge opportunity to show that I can start and that I can perform at this level, from the starting place.”