Tongan Rugby Union chairman and former Falcons stalwart Epi Taione has promised an entertaining brand of rugby when his country locks horns with his old club at Kingston Park in a one-off international clash next Tuesday (kick-off 7.30pm).
The Pacific Islanders jet into the North East as part of a four-match European tour, which sees them take on Italy, USA and Scotland.
And the 33-year-old, who was elected chairman after beating his country’s Prime Minister to the post during the summer, insists his country will deliver entertainment.
Speaking from his home in Tonga ahead of his flight to Italy to join up with the team, Taione told media manager Stewart McCullough: “We will be there to entertain the North East and Cumbria public, and the fans deserve that for the passion they show for sport in the region.
“The Falcons will be a massive challenge for us, and the players are well aware of that, but we are coming to get the win.
“We are hoping to play lightning fast rugby as we begin our preparations for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The game will be very different to test rugby and it’s important that we don’t get complacent, otherwise it will be a shock for most of our lads.
“The biggest thing for me is to see our young players develop their skills in a unique environment as we gear up for the World Cup in three years’ time.
“It is good for the younger players to experience another side of life.”
Spending five seasons with the northeasterners before making the switch to Sale in 2005, Taione is excited at the prospect of rekindling old friendships next week.
He said: “I have a strong affiliation with the club, and I am very much looking forward to seeing some familiar faces. Newcastle is like a home from home for me and I can’t wait to get back.
It will also be nice to experience the awesome atmosphere that is generated by the South Stand, which spurred us on to many crucial victories down the years.
Taione returns to a club that has undergone a major shake-up in recent times with a newly installed coaching set-up spearheaded by Dean Richards.
And with club owner Semore Kurdi’s ambitious plans, the Falcons are certainly moving in the right direction according to Taione.
“Semore is a dynamic individual, who has big plans for the club,” said the Tongan chief.
“It is fantastic that the Falcons have an owner who brings fresh views to the table, and it’s just what the club needs.
“His appointment of Dean Richards as director of rugby in the summer is a real coup for the club and the region. What you see is what you get with Dean, and his move to the North East is a real statement of intent,” added Taione, who enjoyed a brief spell under Richards at Harlequins.
Tickets are still available for both the Nottingham and Tonga games by clicking here or please call the Falcons Ticket Hotline on 0871 226 6060.