Scotland centre Chris Harris is relishing the opportunity to get under the Friday night lights when Newcastle Falcons host Bath in Aviva Premiership action.
The 27-year-old centre returns to club duty after a fortnight of Six Nations action, and is jumping at the chance to help the Falcons to a sixth successive home victory.
“Friday nights are definitely my favourite games, and not just because we get two days off after them,” joked Harris.
“No, seriously, the Friday night lights games here are class to play in, I absolutely love the atmosphere that the crowd create and it’s just a good way for everyone to start the weekend.”
Harris featured for the Falcons back in September when they defeated Bath in a 33-32 thriller at The Rec, and he returns to club duty after a month away on the international scene.
“It feels like I’ve been away for quite a while because I’ve not played since we beat Exeter on the first weekend in January, but the mood here is great,” said the man who has made 65 appearances for the Kingston Park club.
“We’re through in both cups, and even after not going according to plan down at Saracens last weekend everyone is still very positive. Confidence is high here and we’re ready for Bath on Friday.”
The West Country outfit go into tonight’s 7.45pm kick-off placed fifth in the Aviva Premiership table, two places and five points ahead of Newcastle.
“Bath are a good side, but then so are we,” said Harris.
“It’s pretty tight around that area of the table, this is an important game and we could say the same of the next three or four. If we want to stay in that hunt for Champions Cup rugby we need to post a few results, we’ve got home advantage and I think the crowd has a massive part to play.
“Our forwards need to front up again, give us a platform to play off and we can score tries from there. We’ve got lots of dangerous players, Bath do as well, and we know what to expect. It’s just about fronting up, nullifying their game and imposing our own style onto them.”
Reflecting on a busy month which has seen him starting for Scotland away to Wales and then sitting on the bench during last weekend’s home win over France, the centre said: “It has been pretty amazing, really.
“Being selected in the autumn was a massive step, getting my debut against Samoa was a great moment and then being called into the Six Nations squad was another milestone. Finally getting my first start against Wales was really special even if the game itself didn’t go according to plan, and the whole thing has just been an amazing experience.
“The game against Wales was very fast with lots of ball-in-play time, I’ve only played 20 minutes against Samoa so it’s hard to really compare it against any other internationals, but it was definitely tough on the legs and the lungs.”
Making the decision to represent Scotland through his ancestry, Harris added: “There was no pressure from anyone. The Scottish Rugby Union just contacted me to say they were interested, I explained to them how I qualified for Scotland and it just went from there. It was completely down to me in terms of making the decision, there were no external people pushing me and why wouldn’t I want to challenge myself by making that step up?
“Everyone has been really welcoming in terms of the squad and the staff up there, which makes things easier. I’ve blended in, the boys have been great, but you can’t lose sight of your club game because that’s what everything is all based on.
“In terms of the England game on the horizon the Calcutta Cup is one of those iconic fixtures and there’s a massive rivalry between the two countries. It would be a massive honour if I was to pull on the shirt for that one, and it’s something I’m really focusing on.”
Tickets for tonight’s game are available by calling 0871 226 6060.