He may have turned 33 earlier this month but Newcastle Falcons front-row forward Rob Vickers insists his passion for rugby is still as strong as when he first took up the game.
Vickers will line up at loosehead prop when the Falcons make their return to Aviva Premiership Rugby action against Harlequins on Saturday.
His transition to prop has been a relatively recent one after spending a large part of his career as a hooker, but that versatility has made him such a crucial part of Dean Richards’ squad in his ninth season with Newcastle.
And as one of the more experienced heads in the Falcons dressing room, Vickers tries to share any wisdom gleaned from his career with younger teammates.
“There are guys who’ve played a lot more senior rugby than I have but I think everyone is the same as each other now,” he said.
“The culture is evolving so that we all help each other and if someone offers advice it’s very much a case of taking that on board and hopefully I can be a part of that in terms of helping the younger lads through.
“As players get older you know that your career will come to an end at some point and hopefully I’ll be able to control when that is.
“The moment the fire to play stops burning is the moment you need to step away, but I still get excited for every game.
“For me this weekend is another fantastic opportunity to go down and play against a quality team with a good crowd and a great atmosphere.”
The Falcons enter Saturday’s game full of confidence after a number of youngsters impressed in the European Rugby Challenge Cup double header against Stade Francais.
And while Vickers enjoyed those games, he is now keen to focus on the league and help Newcastle climb the Aviva Premiership Rugby table.
“The cup games are great and it was great to go out to Paris and play against Stade Francais, but it’s good to get back into the league,” he added.
“It’s important because it’s the bread and butter of the team and we’re looking up – we want to be pushing hard now and to continue getting results.
“There were some players rested after the last Premiership games but the lads who’ve come in have played very well so there’s a lot of pressure from within the team now.
“That’s a good thing because week in week out the standards in training have been pushed along and are very well driven by the players and the coaches now, and that can only be a good thing to move forwards.”
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