Newcastle Falcons have named their side ahead of Tuesday’s one off friendly with Tonga at Kingston Park (kick-off 7.30pm).
Falcons boss Dean Richards has made ten changes for the visit of the Pacific Islanders, as the Kingston Park outfit aim to make it 12 wins out of 12 in all competitions.
Andrew Higgins, Alex Crockett, James Fitzpatrick, Joel Hodgson and Warren Fury all get the chance to impress in the backline. Meanwhile in the pack Grant Shiells, Matt Thompson, James Hall, James Goode and Chris York are all handed starts.
Tonga, who suffered a narrow 28-23 defeat at the hands of Italy in Brescia at the weekend, travel to the North East with Aviva Premiership star Soane Tonga’uiha and former Falcon Josh Afu in their ranks. Couple that with the pre-match Sipi Tau, and we have a special occasion on our hands, as an international rugby team comes to the region.
“It is a fantastic honour to welcome Tonga to the North East, and it is a great opportunity for some of the players to experience international rugby,” said Richards.
“I went to see Fiji play at Leicester when I was a child, and to see them do their version of the ‘Haka’ or ‘Sipi Tau’ will live long in the memory.
“That should be the same for every child attending Tuesday’s game, and for a lot of them they won’t see it performed in the flesh again – it is something special,” added Richards.
Executive director Paul Varley is excited at prospect of welcoming the Tongans to Kingston Park, as the Falcons showcase international rugby in the North East.
“Bringing Tonga to Kingston Park was a real opportunity to allow our fans to see international rugby in the region,” said Varley.
He added: “Giving that chance to local youngsters was an important part of our thinking, and witnessing the ‘Sipi Tau’ before the game – the Tongan version of the Haka – is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Tickets are available for the game by calling the Falcons Ticket Hotline on 0871 226 6060 or click here to purchase online.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Andrew Higgins, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Warren Fury, 1 Grant Shiells, 2 Matt Thompson, 3 James Hall, 4 Sean Tomes, 5 James Goode, 6 Scott MacLeod, 7 Mark Wilson, 8 Chris York
Replacements: 16 Mike Mayhew, 17 Scott Wilson, 18 James Hallam, 19 Joe Robinson, 20 Jordi Pasqualin, 21 Waisea Luveniyali, 22 Jamie Helleur, 23 Ally Hogg