A trio of new signings will showcase their talents for Newcastle Falcons next season each having all pinned their colours to the ambitious club ahead of the 2013-14 campaign.
Scotland internationals Scott Lawson and Phil Godman join from London Irish and London Scottish respectively, while second-row Fraser McKenzie joins from fellow northerners Sale Sharks.
Lawson, 31, who has 36 Scotland caps to his name, brings a wealth of Premiership experience to Kingston Park having made more than 100 appearances in English rugby’s top-flight.
The highly competitive front-rower joined Gloucester from Sale in 2008 after launching his professional career with Glasgow Warriors. It was while at the Cherry and Whites that Lawson became a prominent figure in the game, and in the summer of 2012 he made the switch to London Irish.
Making his international bow against Romania in 2005, Lawson went on to feature in Scotland’s 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cup campaigns and his last test outing came against Tonga in November 2012.
Lawson said: “I am really excited at the prospect of moving to the North East and playing for Newcastle Falcons, a club that has big plans.
“Dean [Richards] explained the club’s vision to me before I signed, and looking at the coaching set-up which includes Graham Steadman, who I know from my days in the Scotland fold, I cannot wait to get started.
“I will be travelling up to watch the play-offs when they begin, so it will be nice to get a feel for the place.”
Fellow Scottish international, No.10 Phil Godman re-joins the Falcons from fellow Championship outfit London Scottish.
The former Newcastle fly-half has played 23 times for Scotland and brings an experienced control to the backline, a trait he showed whilst playing for London Scottish in their narrow 12-9 defeat to Newcastle at Kingston Park before Christmas.
Godman signed professional forms with the Falcons in 2002, and after two years with the northeasterners, he moved to RaboDirect Pro 12 outfit Edinburgh where he established himself as first choice fly-half.
After eight seasons with the Murrayfield club, Godman joined London Scottish at the start of this season. And his impressive form during his solitary campaign with the Exiles has earned Godman the chance to hone his skills on the Kingston Park stage.
“From my time with Newcastle I understand the passion for rugby throughout the region,” said Godman, who was understudy to Jonny Wilkinson during his four-year stint at the Falcons.
He added: “I learnt a lot from Jonny [Wilkinson] and it was a great experience that set me in good stead going forward.
“At the age of 30 I feel that I still have my best years ahead of me, and I can bring a lot to the team next season.”
Newcastle’s third acquisition is 25-year-old McKenzie who makes the move to the North East on the back of two seasons with Sale where he has made 42 appearances.
The Dunfermline-born lock, who can also play in the back-row, began his career at Edinburgh before moving to Sale ahead of the 2011-12 season.
McKenzie has represented Scotland at Under-19, Under-20 and ‘A’ level, skippering his country at the Under-19 World Championships.
Injury during McKenzie’s first season with the Sharks denied him the chance to make his Scotland debut after he was named in Andy Robinson’s initial Six Nations squad.
The barn-storming forward is delighted to have signed for the Falcons, saying: “There are exciting times ahead for Newcastle and I want to be a part of it.
“Dean’s reputation speaks for itself, and the fact that he and John Wells are at the club is a big pull for me as I feel they can make me a better player.
“It will be nice to team up with Scott MacLeod, who I have played with at Edinburgh – the two of us have worked well together in the past, and he is a great character both on and off the field.
“Newcastle is a great place to live, and I am thrilled to be making the move across to Tyneside.”
Falcons boss Dean Richards said: “We have recruited three top quality players as we continue to build a strong squad for next season.
“Scott [Lawson] and Phil [Godman] will bring considerable experience to the club to complement our current crop of youngsters, and Fraser [McKenzie] is a fantastic signing, who will add firepower to the pack.”