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Moving forward with the Falcons; Prop Hall commits future to Kingston Park.

Byline: MARK SMITH

PROP-FORWARD James Hall has joined the growing list of players pledging their future to Newcastle Falcons.

The 24-year-old joined the club from Championship side Coventry in the summer, and has earned a new two-year deal after impressing in his seven first-team appearances to date.

The former England Students international said: "It feels like a weight off my shoulders, and now I can just get on with my rugby for the rest of the season without having to worry." Highlighting the arrival of Scotland and Lions prop Euan Murray as one of many reasons to extend his stay, Hall added: "I'm looking forward to improving as a professional player over the next two seasons, and with Euan on board there's a really good role model to learn from and tap into.

"I like the philosophy of the club, and the ambition of the place. It's not quite happened yet in terms of moving up the league, but I can see it will come and I think it's inevitable with the quality here that we will improve as a team.

"I've really enjoyed it so far - the training and the games have been a step up from the Championship and it's taken me a bit of time to adjust. I feel that now I'm getting more used to the Premiership standard, I'm pleased with how it's gone and I'm just looking forward to the future here."

Denied the chance of a valuable start last weekend due to Newcastle's Amlin Challenge Cup match at Bourgoin being frozen off, the tight-head said: "It's been great to have been involved with the European games, but I was gutted that Saturday was called off when I was due to start.

"That would have been something to build on after the Montpellier game the week before where I felt I did OK in the scrums, and at Bourgoin I was looking to contribute more around the park in addition to that set-piece work.

"I wanted to show that there's more strings to my bow than just scrummaging, but it's just one of those things and there's nothing you can do."

Head coach Alan Tait welcomed the news of Hall's new deal, which comes after previously announced extensions for full-back Jeremy Manning, flanker Mark Wilson and fellow back-row man Will Welch.

"There's little bits and bobs he needs to work on, but the signs are great so far and it's fantastic to have James on board with a new two-year deal," said the Scot.

"He's a great ball-carrier, and that's what the modern day prop has to be as well as their breadand-butter in the set-piece. "He's a work in progress, he's training hard with our front-row coach Micky Ward and he's improving all the time.

"He's improving his rugby knowledge with Paul Moriarty, just on things like lifting in the line-outs and being switched-on at the call.

"James will be the first to admit that's what he needs to get better at, but the most promising thing from his point of view is that his scrummaging work looks really solid.

"He's a young prop, and we have to be excited as a club about getting raw talent like that to work with.

"Guys like Grant Shiells fall into the same category, and with them coming through the system we're going to be strong in that area for some time."

CAPTION(S):

STAYING POWER James Hall, in action against Montpellier, has signed a new deal at Kingston Park
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 25, 2011
Words:583
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