Hayman wants to end with Falcons as a winner

Rugby’s top accolades have long been coming the way of Newcastle Falcons skipper Carl Hayman, but he admits he can’t remember the last time he actually won a trophy with a non-international team.

There were 68 games for Otago and 81 with the Highlanders before he headed ‘north’ to join the Falcons after the 2007 Rugby World Cup, but none of them earned him a tangible title.

The tag of being “the best tight head prop in the world” has rested easily on his shoulders for some time, but now he wants to end the years of waiting by getting his hands on the Amlin Challenge Cup.

“I have had a few runners-up medals and things like that down the years, but I can’t remember the last time I actually won a trophy with my club,” said Hayman.

“It would be nice to actually win something at this stage of my career, especially as it would crown my three years in Newcastle.”

With 61 games under his belt for the Falcons, Hayman has twin objectives in sight before he leaves the north-east and heads to the south of France to link up with former Falcons team-mates Tom May and Jonny Wilkinson at Toulon next season.

Both goals have a European focus.

A top six finish in the Guinness Premiership, to guarantee Heineken Cup rugby next season, is one of them, while the other is to win the Amlin Challenge Cup.

A European Cup final ticket has proved pretty elusive for the Falcons. Last year they were knocked-out in the quarter-finals by Saracens, Worcester Warriors sent them tumbling out at the semi-final stage the season before that and it was ASM Clermont Auvergne who stopped their progress in the last eight in 2007.

“The teams coming down from the Heineken Cup make it a much more difficult proposition in the Amlin Challenge Cup knock-out stages this year – we are just happy to have a home tie,” he said.

“I would still like to think our league form will be good enough to earn us a place in the Heineken Cup next season, as there are still plenty of points up for grabs, but winning the Amlin gives us another potential entry route.

“It means there is plenty to play for in this game. It would be great for the club if we could finally reach a major European final and now we are two wins away from giving ourselves a shot at taking a title.

“It has been a few years now since the Falcons have won any silverware.

“The Blues are a hard side to face and I know they will be disappointed at coming out of the Heineken Cup. Given their position in the Magners League, it is going to be a very big game for them.

“When you talk about the big teams in Europe you put the Blues right up there with the best.”


Hayman vs Jenkins


And as well as leading his side against one of the biggest clubs in Europe, the 45-times capped All Black will also be locking horns with one of the best loose head props in the world, Gethin Jenkins.


Hayman holds the upper hand on the scoreboard, 4-0, with three wins for the All Blacks over Wales and one against the Lions, and is keen to maintain his unblemished record.


“I have clashed with Gethin on a few occasions at Test level and he is a great competitor. He has been involved in the Wales set-up for quite some time and that shows his quality,” he said.


“You don’t play that many games for your country, and the British and Irish Lions, if you have any weaknesses. He is very good around the field and his scrummaging is very good as well.


“He is part of a very strong Cardiff Blues pack and it is going to be an interesting battle. Games are won and lost up front so, if we can continue our recent form with our pack, I think we can cause them some problems.


“I know all the Kiwi guys in the Blu

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