Newcastle Falcons have made one change for this Friday’s RFU Championship clash with Rotherham Titans at Kingston Park (kick-off 8pm).
Promising youngster Zach Kibirige starts on the wing as the Falcons aim to make it nine wins out of nine in all competitions this season.
The Yarm-born flyer, who turns 18 this weekend, impressed Falcons boss Dean Richards in the northeasterners’ 52-5 victory over Cross Keys in the British and Irish Cup a fortnight ago.
Crossing the whitewash on his debut, the Teessider will be hoping for more of the same when the South Yorkshiremen are in town.
Fresh from his call-up to the Scotland squad for their autumn tests, Rory Lawson starts at scrum-half alongside Jimmy Gopperth, who takes to the field at fly-half.
Tane Tu’ipulotu and Alex Crockett retain their place in the centres, while Alex Tait pulls on the No.15 jersey for the first time in the Championship following impressive displays in the British and Irish Cup.
It is as you were in the pack as Richards names the same forward line that defeated Connacht 34-3 last week.
Chris York gets a place on the bench after a spell on the sideline with a hand injury with Mark Wilson ruled out of the squad through illness.
“Rotherham are a big side not only in the pack but in the backline too, and I don’t think we have come up against anything like that this season,” said director of rugby Richards.
He added: “I think it is going to be a dry night on Friday and hopefully we will get a good crowd at the game. On these colder nights the atmosphere is even better and I’m really looking forward to the game.
“We’ve just got to continue the winning streak and get the continuity going in respect to how we want to play. It isn’t always the same for every game, and we do change our style of play in accordance with the opposition – not massively but just little bits and pieces.”
With hot prospects Kibirige earning a place in the starting XV, Richards said: “The chance to blood a lad like Zach has been absolutely fantastic for us.
“Now he gets a chance to play his first RFU Championship game and we are keen to see what he can do at this level.
“Having Zach and Scott Wilson involved in recent weeks really does go to show the strength in depth of young talent in the region.”
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 11 Tom Catterick, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Rory Lawson, 1 Jonny Golding, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Carlo del Fava, 5 Scott MacLeod, 6 Richard Mayhew, 7 Will Welch, 8 Ally Hogg
Replacements: 16 Matt Thomson, 17 James Hall, 18 Sean Tomes, 19 Chris York 20 Jordi Pasqualin, 21 Joel Hodgson, 22 James Fitzpatrick