Argentina pair Matias Orlando and Matias Moroni have landed on Tyneside, insisting they are fit and ready for Newcastle Falcons duty.
Orlando is entering his third season at Kingston Park Stadium, with fellow centre Moroni arriving in the North East after winning the Gallagher Premiership title with Leiecster Tigers.
Both players have been away on international duty since June, claiming a dramatic series win over Scotland before embarking on a Rugby Championship campaign which saw them beating New Zealand and Australia.
“I’m really happy to be back,” said Orlando, whose tally of international caps is now past the 50 mark.
“We landed in Newcastle on Monday night, and the time zone from South Africa is pretty similar to the UK so there hasn’t really been a problem with jet lag.”
With the Falcons set to host Bristol Bears in Friday night’s Gallagher Premiership action, Orlando said: “I am free to play, hopefully as soon as possible and I want to get back into it.
“It’s obviously down the coaches and I’ve only just landed here, but I’m keen to get minutes on the field and hopefully make a contribution. I’m absolutely fit to go.
“Having been away with Argentina for so long it’s actually a case of getting used to the language again, so I’ll be working on my Geordie!
“I feel really happy to be back, though. The boys are great, they’ve welcomed me back and hopefully I can help Tute [Moroni] to settle in.”
Moroni, who scored a try in each of Argentina’s last two games against South Africa, said: “We arrived in Newcastle on Monday I night, I woke up on Tuesday morning and it was bright outside, so we brought the sun!
“We were straight into training, and even though we didn’t do every single part of the session it was great to get straight into it and meet the boys.
“I have a lot to learn in terms of the calls and how we want to play, and it’s been really helpful having Mateo [Carreras] and Tosti [Orlando] here. That has sped things up a bit because they can communicate with me in Spanish, and so far they’ve been able to quickly answer every question that I’ve had.
“In terms of if and when I play, it’s up to the coaches to pick the team but I’m fit and ready, and I came here to play rugby. If the coaches think that I am ready, then I’m here, but it’s not my decision to make.”
Reflecting on the Pumas’ Rugby Championship campaign as they prepare for an autumn schedule which sees tests against England, Scotland and Wales, Moroni added: “The most important thing for Argentina is that we are building something good, and all the players, coaches and staff are on the same page.
“We are building something new, which we feel is the correct way, and I think in some ways we deserved more than the two wins that we ended up with. It’s very hard to do against good teams though, and we just have to continue working.”
Echoing his enthusiasm for the Pumas’ progress, Orlando said: “Personally, it was good to be back in the Argentina team.
“I really enjoyed being back with the Pumas, and we had a bit of everything in terms of our results. There are obviously some things we need to learn, but within that we had some good wins and there are things we can build on.”
Switching his focus back to Newcastle and the impact that he and Moroni can hopefully make, Orlando added: “I’ve watched the first two Premiership games, and as much as there are improvements to be made I think we are good enough to do it.
“I’ve known Tute [Moroni] for a long time, we’ve been together in the Argentina camp and he will be a great signing for the Falcons.
“It will be good to share with him on the pitch here if we get that opportunity, and I’m sure the fans will like what he brings to the club. He is known as being a player for the people, everyone loves him and I’m sure he will be good for us.”