Team news: Earle to debut against Wasps

Friday 1 October 2021

Nathan Earle makes his Newcastle Falcons debut on Saturday when they play host to Wasps in Gallagher Premiership action.

The multiple Premiership title winner arrived in the summer from Harlequins and missed the first two games of the season after recovering from a hamstring injury, but comes in to join a Newcastle side looking to kick on from last weekend’s 20-13 win at Bath.

The back-line is otherwise unchanged from the one which started at The Rec, while there are a number of changes in the forward pack.

Mark Tampin replaces Richard Palframan at tight-head prop following the off-the-ball hit which forced the latter from the field during the first half at Bath.

Greg Peterson’s USA call-up and Sean Robinson’s knee injury means a new look to the second row as Philip van der Walt partners Italian international Marco Fuser – Van der Walt’s move up from blind-side flanker enabling England’s Callum Chick to make a first appearance of the season.

Preparing to face a Wasps side who were 44-8 winners at home to Bristol last weekend, Newcastle Falcons defence coach Nick Easter outlined the size of the task for his charges.

“Wasps are a dangerous and a confident side who are absolutely lethal on transition and turnover ball,” said the former England No.8.

“That’s been their DNA for a long time, they have very good individuals and their 8-9-10 combination and back three are all serious threats. They’ve got good depth in their forward pack, they have a well-balanced squad and even though they missed out on the top six last season they’ve stayed true to exactly what they are.

“As a defence coach you really have to make sure your messaging is clear when you’re facing Wasps, because they’re a big threat.”

Looking back on a 50-50 return from the campaign after taking a losing bonus point against champions Harlequins prior to last weekend’s away win at Bath, Easter said: “It’s been a middle-of-the-road start, all things considered.

“We’re satisfied with a lot of the stuff we’ve been working on, and have seen that develop over the three pre-season games and two Premiership matches.

“You want to win every game, of course you do, but we’re realistic enough to know that the Gallagher Premiership is an incredibly tough competition and that’s not always going to happen.

“We lost against a champion team in Harlequins who were ruthless in nailing their chances, and we were really pleased with the first half last weekend at Bath. We allowed them to get back into it after half-time and didn’t score another point, but in terms of just the mind-set and collective belief I thought it was a big step forward in the growth of this team.

“The players have stepped up and taken more ownership of their respective areas of the game, and guys are really progressing into leadership roles. There’s a little bit less instructional stuff from the coaches, and it’s about developing our players into leaders and decision-makers out on the field.

“We’ve got a young squad in certain areas and are blessed with some fantastic academy talent, and those guys are now having that accountability and understanding of what goes on around them, as well as about their own game.”

Having this week welcomed Eddie Jones to Kingston Park Stadium, the England head coach’s visit followed a national team training camp which included the Newcastle quartet of Trevor Davison, Callum Chick, Adam Radwan and Jame Blamire.

“It was good to have Eddie up here to watch a bit of training, have a cup of tea and a natter, and that can only be a good sign,” said Easter.

“All four of those guys who’ve been away this week, and probably a few more to be totally honest with you, deserve that recognition. They’ll benefit from being in those England camps and seeing what it takes to pull on the white jersey, and there’s a hell of a lot of talent up here.

“It’s a great environment to work in and I’ve been really impressed since I’ve been up here, but I already knew the sort of culture Dean Richards likes to build, with toughness and resilience at the forefront. When you add the talent and levelheadedness of the guys we’ve got into that mix, I think they’re exactly the kind of people who can thrive in the international arena.”

Asked about hooker George McGuigan’s absence from the England squad, Easter added: “If you asked our coaches and players for their player of last season, I’m sure they’d say it was George. He’s been incredibly consistent for us, he should be knocking on Eddie’s door in my opinion and he’s been brilliant for us.

“He’s a bundle of energy, a quality player and there are no real weaknesses in his game. His set-piece stuff is spot-on, and as we saw last week if you give him a bit of space he can run 25 yards through the middle of a defence to score a try. Looks can be deceiving!”

Outlining the role of the Falcons faithful in Saturday’s home date with Wasps, Easter believes another vocal home crowd could make a real difference.

“Home support will be important, and I thought our fans were excellent in the Harlequins game,” he said.

“Hopefully we can get that kind of atmosphere going again and provide that real boost to the players.”

Tickets for Saturday’s 3pm kick-off are on sale by clicking here.

The game is not being shown live on TV in the UK but there will be live audio commentary via the BBC Rugby website, plus twitter updates on @falconsrugby .

Newcastle Falcons team to face Wasps (Saturday, 3pm, Kingston Park Stadium)

15 Tom Penny, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Pete Lucock, 11 Nathan Earle, 10 Will Haydon-Wood, 9 Louis Schreuder; 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Mark Tampin, 4 Marco Fuser, 5 Philip van der Walt, 6 Callum Chick, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Carl Fearns.

Replacements: 16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Kyle Cooper, 18 Trevor Davison, 19 Will Montgomery, 20 Gary Graham, 21 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 22 Brett Connon, 23 George Wacokecoke.

Wasps: 15 Ali Crossdale, 14 Marcus Watson, 13 Sam Spink, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Dan Robson; 1 Robin Hislop, 2 Tom Cruse, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 4 Vaea Fifita, 5 Elliott Stooke, 6 Brad Shields (captain), 7 Gabriel Oghre, 8 Tom Willis.

Replacements: 16 Dan Frost, 17 Tom West, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Tim Cardall, 20 Ben Morris, 21 Will Porter, 22 Will Simonds, 23 Zach Kibirige.

Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe.

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