Newcastle Falcons have named a power-packed line-up for Friday’s EPCR Challenge Cup opener at home to Worcester Warriors.
The 8pm kick-off at Kingston Park Stadium sees the Falcons going with the same back line which started last weekend’s Gallagher Premiership trip to London Irish, director of rugby Dean Richards making five changes to his forward pack.
Will Welch returns to captain the side from the open-side flank, with Carl Fearns also coming into the back row. Italian international Marco Fuser is in at second row, with Kyle Cooper and Mark Tampin rotated in as the two props.
“We’ve got a lot of boys carrying injuries or niggles, and aside from that we’re putting out the strongest team available,” said director of rugby Dean Richards, whose side drew 24-24 at home to Worcester less than two weeks ago in league action.
“Playing Worcester around a fortnight ago is useful in many ways, and gives us a good understanding of what they’re about.
“If I was being particularly blunt about it we were very disappointed with the performance that day, to score four tries and only get three points.
“We weren’t happy with conceding the three tries in the manner in which we did, and then on top of that we conceded a shed-load of points down at London Irish last weekend.”
Backing his squad to respond positively to those setbacks, the Falcons boss added: “Obviously there’s a lot of stuff we’ve been working on to address those things, and the boys have been working really hard to get back on track.
“The squad have responded really well to last weekend, and they’re a positive group of boys who work incredibly hard for one another.
“They’re very honest when it comes to their analysis and preparation, and it’s all done with the intention to become better players and to help the team to progress.”
Newcastle Falcons team v Worcester Warriors
(Friday, 8pm, Kingston Park Stadium)
15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Penny, 13 Max Wright, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Adam Radwan, 10 Will Haydon-Wood, 9 Louis Schreuder; 1 Kyle Cooper, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Mark Tampin, 4 Marco Fuser, 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Callum Chick, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Carl Fearns.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Smith, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Logovi’i Mulipola, 19 Greg Peterson, 20 Gary Graham, 21 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Ollie Lindsay-Hague.