Newcastle Falcons announce their squad to face Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on the opening day of the season.
Newcastle Falcons today announce their squad for their first Aviva Premiership game of the season, a side which combines many of the most memorable performers from the club’s pre-season campaign.
Full back Simon Hammersley is poised to make his Aviva Premiership debut after impressing in all three of his pre-season appearances as he lines up alongside four other players looking to wear Falcons colours for the first time in the English rugby’s top flight.
New signings Juan Pablo Socino and Josh Furno will both start for the club with Calum Green also featuring in the starting line-up against his former club at Welford Road and former Tigers wing Alesana Tuilagi travelling as a replacement.
Another player in tomorrow’s first XV is last year’s Young Player of the Season George McGuigan, who has fought off competition from Scotland international Scott Lawson and former Tiger Rob Hawkins to claim the number 2 jersey as his own for tomorrow’s game.
Director of Rugby Dean Richards said: “George is starting at hooker which is fantastic from his point of view. He’s really stepped up to the mark and I’m really pleased for him.” Richards continued: “Over the last two or three weeks we’ve seen a real upturn in the guys’ execution of the processes we’ve been putting in place, and from Bayonne to Rotherham to Edinburgh they’ve seen the opportunities and have also seen the opportunities that have gone begging, and have tried to rectify those things.
With Mark Wilson falling victim to an ear infection, the Falcons’ injury tally is stacking up, but Richards remains confident that the squad for tomorrow’s game remains strong.
“These are the guys who have understood exactly what’s been asked of them throughout pre-season. We have Calum and Josh in the second row tomorrow with Dom on the bench and all of those boys have been fantastic in pre-season. Calum is going back to his old club with a point to prove and Josh has a fantastic engine on him and will run all over the place.
“Our new signings have integrated well into the team but the difficulty we have is that Kane (Thompson), Alex and Andy (Tuilagi) arrived late so it’s taking them a little while to get into our way of playing. Alex will start on the bench tomorrow because for him in the wing it’s that bit easier for him to slot in than it would be for Andy in the centre.
“Tomorrow’s game will give us a good measure of where we stand; away to Tigers is an incredibly tough opener to the season. We’re going there to give it our all and I’ll be disappointed if we don’t win. The boys have adopted that attitude too – they’re going out there and anything other than getting something out of the game will be disappointing.”
However Richards knows all too well that the Falcons’ past record at Welford Road presents a challenge. “The last and, I think only, time Newcastle Falcons won at Welford Road I was playing my last ever game for Tigers. I’d been put in the second row which was the ultimate kick in the teeth for me – I wasn’t renowned for my line out jumping! I should have been sent off that day too so it wasn’t a great day.”
However records are there to be broken, and the Falcons will be looking to make amends tomorrow and get their 2014-15 season off to a strong start. Live match commentary for the game will be available live via the Newcastle Falcons mobile app or @FalconsRugby Twitter feed.