REMOVING bodies and minds from rugby’s frontline for a week will see Newcastle Falcons attacking the back half of the season at full tilt, says flanker Richard Mayhew.
The Kiwi is among the Kingston Park players enjoying a week-long break following their New Year’s Day win at Doncaster, with no fixture until next Saturday’s visit of Irish province Connacht Eagles.
“Getting a week off in the middle of the season is absolutely huge,” said Mayhew, the North Harbour native whose body has taken a regular battering due to his abrasive all-action style.
“Having so many games during the year can leave you feeling a little bit flat at times.
“The boys really appreciate the week away because they will come back fresh and full of energy for the games coming up between now and the end of the season.
“When you consider the promotion play-offs are not until May it is all about peaking for that right time of the campaign and so getting a week to rest up in January is ideal.
“Recovery is just as important as training, and as well as the physical aspects the mental side of having non-stop training and matches for ten months can sometimes take its toll.”
Mayhew was among the many reporting mixed feelings from a 28-10 triumph at Doncaster which saw the four-try bonus point arriving with only two minutes to spare.
He added: “It was a bit frustrating and ‘patchy’ is the word I would use to sum it up.
“There was good bits of play at times, but a lot of pretty average stuff if we are totally honest.
“We claimed the bonus point, but played nowhere near as well as we know we are capable of.”
Assessing the plusses and minuses from the Castle Park encounter, Mayhew said: “Our scrum was pretty good and that led directly to the first two tries with Rory Lawson scoring the first from the base and then a penalty try for the second.
“At times our forwards got round the corner well and carried pretty effectively, but we threw away 50-50 passes and made poor decisions after a lot of the hard work had already been done in creating the opportunities.
“We peeled off our driving maul too early on a few occasions and didn’t make the most of that foundation.
“We found ourselves isolated and those little errors nearly killed us.”
Chief among the highlights was the two-try contribution of teenage winger Zach Kibirige, the Yarm School pupil who only trains part-time but has made a huge impression with his pace and finishing ability.
“Mate, he is absolutely rapid,” added Mayhew, sporting a huge grin.
“His speed off the mark is ridiculous, and even when he gets going he isn’t exactly slow.
“His finish for the second try was immense and he is just an awesome talent for such a young guy.
“If we were to learn anything from seeing him score those two it is basically we need to get the ball to him much more often than we had been doing previously because he is a guy who can finish.”
With director of rugby Dean Richards at pains to ease his young star into action rather than throwing him into the deep end every week, Mayhew is among the many admirers of the Teesside prospect.
He said: “When you consider he is still at school it is amazing to think how much he has already shown for the Falcons.
“The fact he can’t train with us all the time makes it even more impressive.”