Hoping to reach his double century of appearances when Newcastle Falcons host Harlequins on Saturday, Mark Wilson is grateful for the chances the club gives to its younger players.
Fitness and selection permitting the Cumbrian back-rower will reach his 200 at Kingston Park Stadium this weekend at the age of just 28.
“People often ask about why the Falcons are so good at bringing through their academy guys, and for me it’s about the chances you get here,” said Wilson, a product of Kirkbie Kendal School, Kendal RFC and the Falcons’ academy.
“A lot of clubs pay lip service to it but when it comes down to the crunch they don’t give first team exposure to their academy guys, whereas up here we’re not scared to do it.
“That’s what really helped me at the start of my career, knowing the coaches had the confidence to put me in there, and it means you have that bank of experience by the time you’re in your early 20s.
“Younger players are trusted here, they will get their opportunity and the ones who take it can go on to great things.”
Making no attempt to play down his joy at the prospect of reaching a double century, the England flanker said: “When I reached 100 for the club it was already in my mind that I wanted 200, and all things being well I’m delighted to be able to do that on Saturday.
“It’s 200 more games than I thought I would play when I was 14 or 15 years old and just starting out in the Falcons academy, but it’s a huge honour and I’m really over the moon to have it within sight.”
Predicting an entertaining contest against Harlequins in a match which has been won by the home team on the last seven occasions, he said: “We’ve always had good games against Quins.
“They’ve got a very good counter-attack and we need to make sure we’re on our mettle there, but we’re the home side and it’s exciting for us to have that big home game around the Christmas period.”
Tickets for Saturday’s 3pm kick-off are selling well as Newcastle go for a fourth successive victory in all competitions, with supporters urged to book in advance by calling 0871 226 6060.