Newcastle Falcons back-rower Gary Graham is prepared for a fast tempo when Wasps buzz into Kingston Park Stadium for Friday night’s Gallagher Premiership encounter.
The 26-year-old made his first start of the season last weekend when the Falcons became the first team this season to take a losing bonus point from unbeaten Exeter Chiefs, saying: “I was just glad to be back in the team, to be honest.
“I’d struggled a bit at the start of pre-season and coming into the season, but I’m happy to be involved again. The match fitness is a work in progress which will improve in the coming weeks, but it’s heading in the right direction.
“The fitness is definitely going to get tested on Friday with the way Wasps move the ball around, but we’re in good shape and feeling good.”
Showing all of his trademark aggression during a battling performance last time out against Exeter, Graham said: “It was frustrating to only come away with a bonus point.
“We knew the fixture list was tough with playing a lot of the top teams early on, but we were going in fully committed trying to win those games. We fell short at home to Saracens, a little bit the same last week against Exeter but there are definitely positives to take into the rest of the season.
“It’s about how you bounce back and how you react to little setbacks, because you can’t dwell on it. You just need to carry on and keep going, and that’s the mind-set here.
“Exeter are a very good side, as they showed all last season and the couple of seasons before that. I think we’re also a good side, even though we weren’t at our best last weekend. We can definitely step up from there, we need to hit our benchmark and we have a great chance to do it on Friday against Wasps.”
Assessing the threat from a Wasps side who ended the Falcons’ five-and-a-half-month unbeaten home run in the final week of the regular season in May, Graham said: “They’re a quality side in attack, there’s no denying it, but we’re going to try and put them to the sword in defence.
“We’ve got a game plan in place, we’ve trained well this week and we’ve got things lined up. It really feels like we’re in the right frame of mind, our mentality is spot-on and we’ve got some points to prove after a couple of our results so far.”
Tickets for Friday’s 7.45pm kick-off are available by calling 0871 226 6060.