Towering lock Evan Olmstead checked in at Newcastle Falcons on Wednesday – the Canadian international determined to make a splash in the Aviva Premiership.
The 25-year-old former London Scottish man came straight from Newcastle Airport to Kingston Park Stadium after a gruelling trip from his native Australia, saying: “It looks good.
“It seems like everything is nice and close together here, it is not as crazy as London and I have already met a few of the guys. They all seem really nice, the facilities are great and I am looking forward to getting stuck in.”
Olmstead has had a busy year on the international front, playing in all three of Canada’s pool games during the Rugby World Cup and all three of their June internationals. The 6ft 5, 115kg forward started in their 46-21 thumping of Russia, their 26-22 loss to Japan and their 20-18 reverse against Italy, saying: “It was a disappointing series in terms of results, but we had some good performances in there.
“The Italy loss was by a narrow margin just over a week ago, I went in to that straight off the back of the RFU Championship season and now I just can’t wait to get going with Newcastle.”
Keen to be thrown straight into pre-season at a Falcons squad who began their preparations on June 13, he said: “I’m not too sure yet exactly what the plan will be. That will become clearer when I speak to the coaches. I’ve literally just landed in the country this morning but I think it is going to be a case of pretty much jumping right into it.”
Already acquainted with the English game after spending the back half of last season with Championship side London Scottish, he said: “I think my time at Scottish will prove useful in terms of understanding English rugby and having some experience of the game here.
“Obviously the Aviva Premiership is a level up but I have had an insight into the way things are done here, and I believe that will be helpful. Playing in the Aviva Premiership is definitely an exciting prospect. The opportunity to play in the top level of club rugby anywhere in the world is going to help me go to the next level and it is a chance I’m determined to take.”
Giving Falcons supporters an idea of what they can expect from their most recent arrival, Olmstead said: “The most obvious things I bring are a bit of physicality, aggression and niggle. I like to make an impact around the contact area and, having grown up in Australia, I’ve played a lot of touch and tag rugby. That means I have a decent pair of hands for a forward, and hopefully I can bring that into my game here with the Falcons.
“Newcastle itself is a bit of a step into the unknown, although I have talked to a lot of people about the move. My English friends speak very highly of Newcastle, and the Canadian guys I know who have played here say it can be very hostile and cold. I personally wouldn’t see those as bad things because it can work in our favour as the home team, but I have only just arrived and I will only be able to judge it properly once I see the place for myself.”
Olmstead is one of 11 confirmed summer signings for the Falcons, whose other arrivals are Vereniki Goneva (Leicester), Kyle Cooper (Sharks), Sam Lockwood (Jersey), Joel Hodgson (Yorkshire Carnegie), David Tameilau (USA), Nick Civetta (I Medicei), Andrew Davidson (Glasgow), Ben Sowrey (Worcester), Harrison Orr (Ealing) and Sam Egerton (England 7s).
Season tickets for 2016-17 are available now priced from £208 for adults, £176 concessions, £70 under-16s and free for under-11s (two per paying adult). To book call 0871 226 6060.