Gonzalo Tiesi captain’s Newcastle Falcons in this Sunday’s crucial Aviva Premiership clash with Worcester Warriors at Kingston Park (kick-off 2pm).
Argentina international centre Tiesi, who penned a new deal on Tyneside earlier this week, leads out the Falcons in the absence of the injured Will Welch.
Mark Wilson makes a welcome return to the back-row, replacing Welch, while there are two changes in the backline with scrum-half Warren Fury and winger Sinoti Sinoti handed starts.
After impressing in Newcastle’s late fight-back at Gloucester Rugby last weekend, Welshman Fury gets the nod ahead of Mike Blair who drops to the bench.
Samoan flyer Sinoti returns from an ankle injury and comes in for Zach Kibirige whose season has been cut short by a broken leg sustained at Kingsholm last week.
“If you look at the last five to six weeks with the ground firming up, we have played some outstanding rugby,” said director of rugby Dean Richards.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi (c), 12 Danny Barnes, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Warren Fury, 1 Rob Vickers, 2 Scott Lawson, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Scott MacLeod, 5 Fraser McKenzie, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Andy Saull, 8 Chris York
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Gary Strain, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Sean Tomes, 20 Richard Mayhew, 21 Mike Blair, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 James Fitzpatrick