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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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North Cumbrian rugby ace pens new deal with Newcastle Falcons

Cumbrian hooker Joe Graham hopes former England and British Lions legend Dean Richards will help turn him into an Aviva Premiership star.

Joe Graham photo
Joe Graham

Graham has signed a new one-year deal with Falcons, who were spared relegation from the Premiership despite finishing bottom last season after London Welsh were denied promotion as their ground was not up to standard.

The 25-year-old from Walton, near Brampton, made 22 appearances last term, crossing the whitewash twice.

Graham hopes the arrival of Richards as Newcastle’s new coach will keep him on the upward curve next season, and enable him to fulfil his potential as a top Premiership player.

Richards is set to revive his coaching career at Kingston Park after serving a three-year worldwide ban for his part in the Bloodgate scandal at Harlequins.

The former England star, who won 48 caps and represented the British Lions six times, resigned from Harlequins in 2009 for his role in the fake blood injury to player Tom Williams during a Heineken Cup fixture against Leinster.

Graham believes Richards’ arrival will help reignite Falcons after a disappointing season, and is looking forward to working under him.

Graham said: “It is a very exciting time for the Falcons at the moment and the club is certainly moving in the right direction.

“I am really looking forward to Dean Richards coming in as the new director of rugby and I am delighted to be a part of this ambitious set-up.”

Graham joined the Aviva Premiership club two years ago after coming up through the ranks at Carlisle from the age of 11 until joining Tynedale, coached by former Cumbria and Aspatria coach Tom Borthwick, when he was 21.

The former England Counties representative scored 11 tries in 25 games for the National League One club during the 2009-10 season to earn himself a permanent move to the Aviva Premiership outfit.

Graham and his team-mates are now into the third week of pre-season training and have been put through rigorous session on the dunes on a beach in Northumberland.

The Cumbrian front-rower said: “Training has been going really well and we have been doing a mixture of skills and fitness in the first two weeks.

“I really enjoy coming into the club each day and it is a pleasure to work with this committed and professional bunch of guys.”

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