Try machine Vereniki Goneva has handed Newcastle Falcons a major boost by extending his stay with the Kingston Park club.
The 49-times-capped Fijian international has been a revelation during his two seasons on Tyneside, scoring 17 tries in his 28 Aviva Premiership games and topping last season’s league-wide Opta stats for metres made.
Winning last season’s Falcons Player of the Year and Players’ Player awards, the 33-year-old has dotted down eight tries in his 10 outings this season, scoring in his last three matches to help propel Newcastle into the top half of the table.
A Premiership title winner and Rugby Players’ Association Player of the Season during four successful seasons with Leicester Tigers, Goneva’s ruthless finishing and ability to spot interception opportunities have consistently made him one of the league’s deadliest attackers, plundering 48 tries in his 92 Premiership outings.
Delighted to have retained the winger’s services, Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said: “Niki is a model professional who keeps himself in amazing shape and delivers time and time again on the field.
“He is an extremely humble guy who very quietly goes about his business, his ability to score tries is truly in the world class bracket and it’s fantastic news for Newcastle Falcons that he will be staying with us.”
Goneva, who is the second-top try-scorer in this season’s Aviva Premiership, said: “I have loved my two years with the Falcons and it is great to be able to extend that time.
“It’s a very positive environment here at Kingston Park, we are making good progress and I have been made to feel at home in Newcastle. I’m excited about what this club can achieve in the future and I’m glad that I will be part of it.”
Insisting there are plenty more miles on the clock, Goneva said: “I didn’t start playing professionally until my mid-20s so I have a lot of rugby ahead of me, I feel like I’m in great shape and it was an easy decision in terms of staying with Newcastle.
“I love the city, there’s lots to enjoy up here outside of the game and I see a really bright future for the Falcons.”
Newcastle Falcons’ next game is at home to Gloucester on Saturday in the Anglo-Welsh Cup (kick-off 3pm).