Newcastle Falcons have made five changes for this Saturday’s RFU Championship trip to Plymouth Albion (kick-off 3pm).
Italian international Carlo del Fava is the most notable inclusion with the lock-forward returning to the pack after a lengthy spell in the treatment room with a hand injury.
Meanwhile hot-prospect Scott Wilson replaces James Hall at tight-head prop, while skipper Will Welch and Ollie Stedman form a new back-row combination.
In the backline Alex Tait gets his chance to impress from the start, replacing Ryan Shortland who grabbed himself a brace of tries in last week’s 72-17 British and Irish Cup quarter-final triumph.
Tom Catterick switches to the wing with fellow ex-Barnard Castle pupil Tait pulling on the No.15 jersey.
The Falcons defeated the Devon club 31-15 when the two sides met in the reverse fixture back in November, with Mark Wilson, Luke Fielden and Jamie Helleur all touching down to seal the win.
With qualification for the end of season play-offs now guaranteed by virtue of a superior points difference and a 20 game unbeaten run to boot, Dean Richards’ men will be champing at the bit to continue this colossal trend.
Reflecting on his side’s previous encounter with Albion, defence coach Graham Steadman told Falcons TV: “I was disappointed with the first 20 minutes of that game, and I’ve touched on that in the presentation this morning on what Plymouth can pose.
“We were guilty of not turning up for the first quarter of the match, but we have moved on from that and there is a stronger mind-set within the group now.
“We are the meanest defence in the whole of Europe, not just in England so we are certainly doing things well.
“The most pleasing thing for me as a defence coach is that the boys have bought into what I’m trying to do, and the players are really working hard for each other.”
Click here to watch our exclusive interview with the former Scotland coach, including his take on new signing Mike Blair whom he worked with at Murrayfield.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Adam Powell, 12 Jamie Helleur, 11 Tom Catterick, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Warren Fury, 1 Grant Shiells, 2 Matt Thompson, 3 Scott Wilson, 4 Scott MacLeod, 5 Carlo del Fava, 6 Ollie Stedman, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 All Hogg
Replacements: 16 Rob Vickers, 17 James Hall, 18 James Goode, 19 Richard Mayhew, 20 Jordi Pasqualin, 21 Waisea Luveniyali, 22 James Fitzpatrick