Scotland international Scott Lawson will make his Newcastle Falcons debut in tomorrow’s Round 2 Amlin Challenge Cup clash with Brive at the Stade Amedee-Domenech (kick-off 9pm local time).
Lawson, whose season is yet to get up and running after suffering a broken hand during the Falcons’ final pre-season match against Edinburgh Rugby, is one of eight changes to the side that narrowly defeated Bucharest Wolves last week.
Hot prospect Scott Wilson is handed his first start of the campaign in place of Oliver Tomaszczyk at tight-head, while Dom Barrow comes in for academy product Harrison Collins in the back-row.
Meanwhile there are five changes to the backline with Alex Tait, Noah Cato, James Fitzpatrick, Phil Godman and stand in skipper Warren Fury all getting the nod as the northeasterners look to make it two wins out of two in Europe. Former Brive man Mike Blair is rested for the trip.
Falcons head coach Peter Russell said: Mike [Blair] has filled us in with all the details but at the end of the day they’re an unknown quantity to us, so we just have to go off the knowledge that Mike has given us.
“So long as they haven’t got points on the board and we have, we’ll easily silence the fans, so the main thing is to make sure we go out and do what we have to do – silence the crowd, keep the scoreboard ticking over and no mistake rugby.”
Fly-half Godman is relishing the challenge ahead, saying: “Playing in France is different to any other country. People rightly talk about the passion of the home crowd, but if you flip that on its head they can also turn on their team quite quickly.
“When they get their tails up you notice the crowd and the role that they play and, while I always enjoy playing over there, it can be a hostile environment.”
Victory over Brive this weekend will make it three wins in a row for the Falcons, and the ideal tonic going into next Sunday’s Aviva Premiership showdown with London Irish at Kingston Park.
“Momentum is a big factor and winning a third game in a row would give us a bit of a run with which to attack the London Irish match,” said the Scottish capped No.10.
“Making some of those passes stick is going to be the key, and it is a big opportunity for some of the guys to really stake their claim for selection,” he added.
Tickets are still available for the Falcons’ next Aviva Premiership at home to London Irish on Sunday 27 October by calling the Ticket Hotline on 0871 226 6060 or click here to purchase online (kick-off 3pm).
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Adam Powell, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Warren Fury (c), 1 Rob Vickers, 2 Scott Lawson, 3 Scott Wilson, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 5 Sean Tomes, 6 Dom Barrow, 7 Mark Wilson, 8 Chris York
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Grant Shiells, 18 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 19 Scott MacLeod, 20 Ally Hogg, 21 Chris Pilgrim, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Sean Brown