Aviva Premiership: Dean Richards prepares for Premiership return
Dean Richards is preparing for a fresh start in the Aviva Premiership four years on from the 'Bloodgate' scandal.
Last Updated: 22/08/13 4:58pm
Richards led the Falcons to promotion at the first time of asking last season in his first year back in the game following a three-year worldwide ban for his involvement in the faking of a blood injury during Harlequins' Heineken Cup tie against Leinster in 2009.
But The 50-year-old former England number eight is playing down the significance of his return to the top flight.
"I was more excited going in the Championship last year than the Premiership," Richards said. "I have done it for years and years in the Premiership.
"The Championship is a slightly different thing but we put that behind us now and look forward.
"I am pleased to be here and am excited about each individual game and the challenges they will bring."
Newcastle have strengthened during the summer, bringing in players of real calibre including scrum-half Mike Blair from Brive, hooker Scott Lawson from London Irish, fly-half Rory Clegg from Harlequins and England Saxons star Andy Saull from Saracens.
Despite the late finish of the Championship play-offs and final, Richards is pleased with the level of conditioning of his squad and their performances in pre-season.
Although not wanting to read too much into the 21-21 draw against Bath in a recent friendly in Beziers, the result will be food for thought with the two teams meeting at Kingston Park in the season opener on September 6.
"From a conditioning point of view we are not far off and there is still a little bit of work to be done but on the whole we are nearly there," Richards said.
"The telling time will be in December and we will see how many injuries we have round then.
"The game against Bath showed some strengths and weaknesses in defence and attack which we have been working on and bits and pieces that we knew we needed to work on but didn't have time because of the short pre-season. It highlighted some things which we will try and put right."