Get to know this young Falcons flyer
Newcastle wing Chidera Obonna
Date of birth 18 October 2000 Born Sunderland Position Wing Club Newcastle Falcons Country England
How long have you played rugby?
I first played aged eight at Northern rugby club in Gosforth. I stayed there till I was 15 or 16.
Are you from a rugby family?
Both my brothers played rugby for their school. I played football, basketball, athletics as well. That was at RGS Newcastle.
What positions have you played?
At school I was mainly in the centres, now I’m a wing. I don’t have a preference.
Did you have a rugby hero growing up?
Jonah Lomu was the main one.
What are your strengths and work-ons?
My strength is just my pace. And power. A work-on is my understanding of the game, learning more positional skills.
Who helps you with those things?
The Falcons defence coach (Nick Easter) will speak about positioning and backfield work. And I’ll speak to the academy manager Mark Laycock or Dave (Walder, head coach) when reviewing games.
Who’s been the biggest influence on your career?
Jim Pollock and Andy Watt at schoolboy level (RGS Newcastle) helped me the most. Not stressing but encouraging me to do what I do best.
What’s your best moment in rugby?
The Northampton game, scoring a try. It was my first home game, the fans were back and my family were watching.
How have you found the Premiership?
It’s a lot quicker, there’s no time to switch off. And it’s more physical, you’ve got to be a lot fitter than in lower levels.
Exeter away (lost 74-3) was a toughie… It was good to face the best players in the Premiership, and internationals. To see how you compare.
What are your goals this season?
To keep doing what I’m doing, to stay on this path.
What do you do away from rugby?
I’m doing a law degree at Northumbria Uni – next year is my final year. There’s a lot of reading to do, so it’s hard to combine that with rugby training. You’ve just got to manage your time.
RW Verdict: The son of Nigerian parents, Obonna has played England age-grade rugby and made his Premiership debut at Gloucester in April. He has great off-the-mark speed and an ability to make things happen. One to watch next season.
This article originally appeared in Rugby World’s September 2021 edition.
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