Former Saints star Burrell so happy to be back in union

Luther Burrell left Saints in 2019 but has returned to rugby union with Newcastle FalconsLuther Burrell left Saints in 2019 but has returned to rugby union with Newcastle Falcons
Luther Burrell left Saints in 2019 but has returned to rugby union with Newcastle Falcons
Luther Burrell is back.

No, not at Saints, but in rugby union, at least.

Burrell made the move to rugby league when he left Saints in 2019, linking up with Warrington Wolves.

But the 32-year-old has decided a rapid return to union is right for him, and he has signed a two-year deal at Newcastle Falcons, who will be back in the Gallagher Premiership next season.

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And every word of Burrell’s interview after joining the Kingston Park club oozes enthusiasm.

The centre, who was a key man when Saints won a Premiership and Challenge Cup double in 2014, clearly can’t wait to get stuck in at Falcons.

Burrell told the Newcastle Falcons website: “It didn’t take any selling at all, to be honest.

“I met (Falcons boss) Dean Richards for a bite to eat, I could see straightaway he’s just a totally straightforward bloke, and that’s how you get the best out of me.

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“I left that meeting, got straight on the phone and said I wanted to sign for Newcastle, and it was all sorted out remarkably quickly from there.

“I’ve not shied away from the fact I want to be back in rugby union, so to get signed up with a quality club like Newcastle is fantastic.

“I’m just so excited about the whole thing, and can’t wait to get stuck in when I join the squad on September 28.”

Burrell is glad he was given a chance with Warrington and has no regrets about the move he made after exiting Saints, the club where he spent seven largely successful years.

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“I’m someone who always likes to challenge themselves, and I don’t believe in living in a comfort zone,” he said.

“Playing rugby league is something I’d always wanted to do, and in some ways it has definitely helped me.

“My endurance, fitness levels and aspects of my skill set are definitely better as a result of my time with Warrington, and rugby league guys really pride themselves on doing the unseen work.

“I’ve bought into that, I’ve got a better engine and I’m now able to apply myself more effectively around the field.

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“I was a lot heavier when I played union the first time round – somewhere around 112kg – and I dropped down to around 101-ish. I’m now up to 104kg, which I think is going to be my ideal size, and I’m just excited about bringing that aspect of my game into union.

“I’ve got no regrets about going over to league, because it was the fresh challenge that I needed at the time.

“I’ll look back on it as a positive experience - I wanted to test myself, and I think I’ll come back as a better player for it.

“It just makes sense to choose Newcastle, because ultimately I’m a northern boy.

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“I’m not a Geordie, admittedly, but it’s great to have that bit of northern culture in the Premiership and just being around a good group of lads.

“I know some of the boys there, which makes things a lot simpler for me, and I can’t wait to hit the ground running.”

Burrell has played many matches at the ground that will now become his new home.

And he said: “It’ll be nice to be there as a member of the home team, because the bus trips for the away side are dreaded by most clubs!

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“I’m looking forward to playing on that and really helping us to stamp our home advantage, and I can say as a visiting player it’s one of the toughest places to go and win.

“I’m now on the other side of that, and I can’t begin to tell you how nice it feels.”

Burrell is looking forward to working with a management group which includes Richards, Dave Walder, Nick Easter, Micky Ward, Scott MacLeod and Mark Laycock.

And he added: “I totally buy into the coaching staff that Dean has at the Falcons, and it was definitely a factor in my decision.

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“I just like the honesty around where they see me, and that’s what I need.

“I don’t want to be the guy on the sidelines, I want to be showing my worth to the group, and I really feel like I can make a big contribution here.

“I’ve not come to have a season ticket and be sat in the stand, so I’ll be working as hard as I can to get out on the pitch.”

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