The 7.45pm kick-off in Salford sees consultant director of rugby Steve Diamond taking charge of his first game since joining the Falcons, with an extended squad and rolling replacements.

Philip van der Walt packs down at second row in a side captained by Callum Chick, with Jamie Blamire starting at hooker.

Argentina pair Matias Orlando and Matias Moroni form the centre partnership as the Falcons play their first game since January 27, with Diamond getting a useful look at his squad ahead of their Gallagher Premiership return at Exeter Chiefs on Saturday March 23.

“I’m looking forward to Friday, and I know the players are,”

“We’ve had a few live sessions during training with having no games, but we’ve got that opportunity now on Friday. We’ve agreed on squad sizes which are slightly bigger than the match-day 23 you’d have for a Premiership game, we’ll have rolling subs to keep the tempo high and we’ll give people a chance.”

The Falcons boss

Anticipating a physical and full-blooded encounter, Diamond said:

“Sale are a very well coached team with some world class players, and they’ll be up there challenging the top four by the end of the season.

“Our job is to go there and try and earn some respect, which we don’t seem to have earned much of this year, and I expect to see a highly competitive game.

“Obviously there are no league points at stake but we’ve got quite a lot of lads out of contract at the end of the season, and a lot of them need to impress. I’m also in a position where I’ve got to prove my own worth, so it’s a good opportunity for everyone to show what they can do.”

Having taken over the reins in February there has been a huge focus on the fundamentals as Newcastle look to finish the season strongly, with Diamond taking a no-nonsense approach.

“We’ve tried to concentrate on the real basics which were evidently poor – line-out, scrum, attack and defence – and we’ve worked had at them,” he said.

“It’s a great set of lads here and their attitude has been really good. I can’t question that at all, but the skill set and knowledge has been really poor. We’re working hard on that, and we’re going to have a deep and narrow effect in terms of how we play. We won’t broaden it out too much, and we’re concentrating on ourselves.

“We’ve got this unique time of the season where we don’t have a Premiership game for two months, and the guys are itching to get into it. I’ve spoken to Alex Sanderson at Sale Sharks and both teams will be treating it as a highly competitive game, and we’ll see if we’ve come on any over the last five or six weeks.”

Newcastle Falcons team v Sale Sharks (Friday, 7.45pm, Salford City Stadium)

15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Matias Orlando, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Sam Stuart; 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Eduardo Bello, 4 Philip van der Walt, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Freddie Lockwood, 7 Sam Cross, 8 Callum Chick (captain).

Replacements: Bryan Byrne, Murray McCallum, Richard Palframan, John Kelly, John Hawkins, Josh Bainbridge, Guy Pepper, Ollie Leatherbarrow, Josh Barton, Josh Thomas, Louie Johnson, Iwan Stephens, George Wacokecoke, Zach Kerr, Rory Jennings, Tom Penny, Louis Brown.

Referee: Hamish Smales.

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