English talent to the fore as Falcons face Brive on Friday
Newcastle Falcons have named an exciting team for their European Rugby Challenge Cup match against CA Brive as the 2015/2016 edition of the tournament gets underway in central France.
The side sees 19 of the 23 players count as England qualified as the club continues to embrace the competition as a platform to allow its home grown contingent an opportunity to shine.
After delivering assured performances against Georgia and in the Kings of the North competition at 15 and 10, Craig Willis makes his return to the starting line up as the starting fullback.
Centres Chris Harris and Tom Penny reunite as a combination that was first tried, to pleasing effect in the European Challenge Cup wins over Bucharesti Wolves and Newport Gwent Dragons in rounds one and two for the tournament in 2014.
Pace on the wings is provided by former England 7s star Marcus Watson and Argentine international Belisario Agulla, who with further time to integrate with his new club and build a rapport with his new team mates, will be keen to build on a solid debut last month.
Familiar faces Michael Young and Tom Catterick line up as the starting half backs, with fly half Catterick in particular having fond memories of a competition that saw him establish himself in the number 10 shirt last season.
A new look front row sees Alex Rogers, George McGuigan and Taione Vea come together for the first time while the second row sees Sean Robinson, another of the club’s young English talents who announced himself on this stage last season and Kane Thompson, provide strength and agility in both the tight and the loose.
Across the back row, Richard Mayhew and his abrasive, physical game takes up position on the blindside flank, while live wire Dan Temm starts on the openside.
Completing the pack, Cumbrian Mark Wilson makes a welcome return from injury and captains the side on what will be his 138th appearance.
The replacements bench offers the opportunity for new summer signing Ben Harris and senior academy members Andrew Foster, Dan Marshall and Callum Chick to show what they are capable of, while Rob Hawkins, Mouritz Botha, Calum Green and Ruki Tipuna provide a wealth of experience to call upon should it be needed.
Newcastle Falcons squad v CA Brive – European Rugby Challenge Cup 13/11/15 – KO 18:30 GMT
15 Craig Willis 14 Marcus Watson 13 Tom Penny 12 Chris Harris 11 Belisario Agulla 10 Tom Catterick 9 Michael Young 1 Alex Rogers 2 George McGuigan 3 Taione Vea 4 Sean Robinson, 5 Kane Thompson 6 Richard Mayhew 7 Daniel Temm 8 Mark Wilson (c)
Replacements 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Andrew Foster, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Calum Green, 21 Ruki Tipuna, 22 Dan Marshall, 23 Callum Chick.