Michael Tait gets his first league start of the campaign in this Friday’s RFU Championship clash with Moseley at Kingston Park (kick-off 8pm).
The Kelso-born centre, who has recently been plying his trade for National League 1 outfit Tynedale in a bid to get back into first team contention, is one of three changes.
James Goode replaces James Hudson in the engine room, while Ally Hogg returns to the back-row after being side-lined with a knee injury. James Hudson and Alex Crockett both drop to the bench.
Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards is expecting a tough challenge from a tenth place Moseley unit that were defeated 53-13 when the two sides met at Billesley Common last October.
“The score perhaps did not demonstrate it fully in the end, but for most of the afternoon down there Moseley gave us a really tough game,” said Richards, whose side are now just 13 points away from guaranteeing a play-off spot with their 100 per cent record still intact.
“We scored a couple of opportunist tries combined with some good team scores as the game went on, but it was a difficult assignment and we are not expecting anything easy when they come up here for the return leg,” he added.
Commenting on a series of key individuals that the West Midlands club have in their armoury, Richards said: “We have had a proper look at them, and they have some good players. Guys like Ben Pienaar and Charlie Hayter offer a lot, Neil Mason in the back-row has been around the circuit and they are a decent side.
For parts of the season it just hasn’t clicked for them, which is a shame, but at some stage it is inevitable things will fall into place.
“Hopefully that won’t be tomorrow.”
Kingston Park takes centre stage for a Falcons match for the first time in over a month after heavy snow fall put paid to the Cornish Pirates match.
Richards is delighted with the return of Friday night rugby in Newcastle, adding: “Hopefully the weather will turn for us and give everyone a decent evening after a difficult few months, and it is nice to finally get a game on up here.
“We have had to put up with some horrendous conditions recently, and it would be nice to get a flat track and a bit of warmth because I feel a bit sorry for the players. They want to go out and play a bit of rugby, but it is tough when the weather is as bad as it has been.”
Tickets for the game are still available by calling the Falcons Ticket Hotline on 0871 226 6060 or click here to purchase online.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Catterick, 14 Andy Higgins, 13 Michael Tait, 12 Jamie Helleur, 11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Rory Lawson, 1 Jonny Golding, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 James Goode, 5 Scott MacLeod, 6 Taiasina Tu’ifua, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Ally Hogg
Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 James Hall, 18 James Hudson, 19 Ollie Stedman, 20 Jordi Pasqualin, 21 Joel Hodgson, 22 Alex Crockett