Newcastle Falcons can count on the proven experience of Toby Flood for the next two seasons after the North East native agreed a new contract extension at Kingston Park Stadium.
Flood has made 129 appearances in his two spells with the Falcons, playing at fly-half and centre, and the 60-times-capped England international is delighted to be remaining on Tyneside.
“It’s not a decision that has been taken lightly,” said the 34-year-old, who has won three Premiership titles in a career which has also seen him playing for Leicester Tigers and Toulouse.
“A lot of thought has gone into how my body is, and where I’m at in terms of being able to go again.
“After what happened last season with our relegation I feel a duty to set the record straight and put a few things right with regards to us competing well again in the Premiership, and I still feel I can make a positive contribution.”
The Falcons are currently 12 points clear at the top of the Championship with nine rounds remaining, Sunday’s 40-7 victory over promotion rivals Cornish Pirates extending their winning streak to 19 games in all competitions.
“We’re not in the Premiership yet and of course nothing is being taken for granted about our promotion, but I’m as keen as ever to keep on playing,” said Flood.
“It’s also a club that I have a huge amount of love for after coming through the academy here and with being from the region, and the opportunity to spend another couple of seasons as a Newcastle Falcons player really does mean a lot to me.”
Keen to help nurture the next generation of local talent, he added: “Everyone has seen this season how much quality we have coming through at the club in terms of the younger players, which really bodes well for our longer-term future.
“But I think guys like myself, Will Welch and some of the other players who have been around for a little while – we can help those guys to progress and get the most out of their ability.”
Director of rugby Dean Richards said: “Toby is a tremendously experienced player with a vast amount of knowledge and ability, and it’s great news for us that he will remain here for the next two seasons.
“He is in good shape, he is a great example to any player in terms of how he looks after himself and his work ethic is as strong as ever.
“It is hard to put a value on the kind of knowhow and leadership that he brings to our environment, and it’s always great to have that core of good local lads who know what rugby in this region is all about.”
Flood becomes the sixth Newcastle Falcons player to have announced extended terms with the club, following on from Adam Radwan, Gary Graham, Jamie Blamire, Alex Tait and Tom Arscott.
Newcastle Falcons’ next game is on Saturday when they host London Scottish in the quarter-finals of the Championship Cup.