Kieran Brookes admits he returns to Newcastle Falcons full of confidence after his impressive showings this autumn with England.
The tight-head prop made strong cameos off the bench in all four of England’s clashes last month as Stuart Lancaster’s side bounced back from defeats to New Zealand and South Africa by seeing off both Samoa and Australia.
That final clash, in which Brookes played almost half an hour off the bench, was particularly sweet for the 24-year-old who spent two years of his childhood living Down Under.
And with six international caps to his name now, Brookes admits he has learned a great deal from former Falcon, and current England starter, Davey Wilson.
“It was a bit disappointing to have those two losses but we ended on a massive high, beating Australia was fantastic,” he said.
“And for me, having lived over there for two years when I was younger, it was even more special, that was the game I was really looking forward to.
“My game time has been gradually increasing, so it is up to me to keep putting in performances. From there you get the coaches putting more and more trust in you and hopefully the start will come.
“Davey has been outstanding, his set piece is awesome and he never takes a backwards step. And he has been bringing other things into his game, his ball carrying has improved a lot and he has offered the side another option on that front as well.
“To be able to shadow him in training means that I have learned so much, from the basics to more what you would call the ‘dark arts’, it has been fantastic. We get on very well.”
Brookes’ first piece of action on his return to club duty sees the Falcons host French powerhouses Stade Francais in the European Challenge Cup tomorrow.
With two wins from two to open up their European campaign, Brookes is confident that a win on Friday can catapult them into the knockout stages.
“It’s great to play against a team like Stade, we don’t get to see and play against these players week in, week out,” he added.
“It’s a different style of rugby and a great opportunity too for some players to come in, put their foot in the door and show the coaches what they can do.
“After the wins against Bucharest and Newport we have a good chance of going through and we are definitely targeting that.
“And the momentum that we can gain from a good result here is huge to take back into the Premiership.
“Stade, like all French teams, will have a massive pack and it will be a big physical test. We will have to match that intensity.”
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