Carl Hayman does more than just call heads or tails at the toss of the coin and then anchor the Newcastle Falcons scrum - he leads from the front and the Falcons will look for more of the same from the former All Blacks prop in their Amlin Challenge Cup Round 2 clash with Albi at Kingston Park on Sunday.
The Falcons launched their tournament challenge with a close run 29-27 Round 1 win at Petrarca and are attempting to reach the tournament knock-out stages for the ninth time.
"Carl is not captain because he's going to make loads of wonderful kicking options, he's captain because he's a fantastic leader in his approach and his professionalism." said Director of Rugby Steve Bates.
"The respect he has among the squad and the example he sets with his own actions makes him a tremendous candidate for the captaincy, and everyone knows he's one of the best, if not the best, player in his position on the planet.
"His experience is outstanding in terms of preparation, but in terms of technical decisions out on the field he obviously has a number of other senior guys to help him out."
The Falcons were one of the busier clubs in the summer's transfer market, their 17 signings including Leeds' record try-scorer Tom Biggs, Springbok centre Gcobani Bobo and Kiwi lynchpin Jimmy Gopperth. And fellow newcomer Filipo Levi is determined to help take Newcastle Falcons back to the Heineken Cup big time.
The towering back-rower relished his last-eight Heineken Cup appearance with the Ospreys, but is enjoying his Falcons move even more - and is keen to enjoy top-tier European action at Kingston Park. Levi laid down the first objective as improving on last season's finishes in all competitions. But expecting that to be a benchmark, he believes the Falcons have the capability to rise to the upper Premiership echelons - admitting he would not have signed had he thought
Levi said: "There's been a lot of talk about this being a new era because of the player turnover, and it's a great chance for us to mould the squad and the team into what we want it to be. People won't know how we are going to play, and there's a lot of uncertainty around us outside the club, and that's fine by us.
"We know exactly where we are going and what we are doing and we're very happy with our plans. I didn't come here, or to Europe in the first place, to make up the numbers and to coast along losing more matches than I win."
"I didn't join the Falcons to play in a team that just eases through, I'm here to play in the top competitions and to win matches. I'm here to do everything I can to get the club into the Heineken Cup, and then be in that
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.