Newcastle lock James Hudson has backed his Falcons side to continue their European journey, as they host Welsh giants Cardiff Blues at Kingston Park in Sunday's Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final.
Having just completed a gruelling three league games in six days, Hudson's troops bounce straight back into action against the star-studded Welshmen. But the second row insists he wouldn't have it any other way.
"Off the back of what was a really tough week in the Guinness Premiership the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final comes at a good time for us, and it allows us to put the league to one side for a week as we take on a new and a different kind of challenge," said the 28-year-old, who has been a beacon of consistency following his summer move from London Irish.
"Cardiff have had some good results recently, notably last weekend winning away to Ulster, and the fact that they have international players pretty much across the board tells you all you need to know about the quality they bring.
"They are experienced at playing in the knock-out rounds of major competitions, and I think it's brilliant that the Amlin Challenge Cup is now involving the teams who have dropped down from the Heineken Cup. It's raised the profile of the competition for sure, and for the fans it's great to be getting sides like Cardiff Blues coming to Kingston Park for a major quarter-final.
"Ultimately we want to be playing in the Heineken Cup, and so Sunday's game therefore is a great chance to test ourselves against a side which is already at that level. It's exactly what we want, the boys are all really excited by the challenge and it should be a great occasion for everyone on Sunday."
With Hudson once again set to be the line out kingpin in what will be his 26th appearance for the Falcons, he said: "We've been working on it all year, and I'd like to think all the boys have really bought into the systems that have been put in place.
"Stuart Grimes has worked hard with the whole pack to really bring it forward in a big way for us, because the set piece is such an important element of the game. As happens occasionally we had a couple of wobbles last Saturday at Harlequins, but over the course of three games in the week the fact that we've only lost two or three line outs shows in total the sort of progress that we're making on that front. You always want that quality ball to play with, and it's up to us to really set that platform."
Having been given two rest days after the 23-14 defeat at Harlequins to recharge the batteries, Hudson was among those returning to training on Tuesday, stating: "I have to be honest, I haven't moved much in the past few days!
"We have a new and an exciting challenge this weekend in hosting a quality team in old-fashioned knock-out rugby, and we're doing everything we can to make sure we get the result which takes us through to the semi-final stage."
Tickets for Sunday's Falcons v Cardiff Blues game can be bought by calling 0871 226 60 60, from the official club website or from Kingston Park in person.
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