As Newcastle Falcons look to end the 2014/15 season on a high against Harlequins this Saturday, the club has brought in five international players amongst seven changes to their starting line.
Meanwhile the Falcons’ replacements include Wing Zach Kibirige who will be hoping to make his first appearance for the Falcons since returning from the injury he sustained against Gloucester late last season.
Scotland international Mike Blair will captain the team while Alesana Tuilagi (Samoa), Eric Fry (USA), Scott MacLeod (Scotland) and Uili Kolo’ofai (Tonga) all return to the starting line up alongside Tom Catterick and Richard Mayhew.
With Simon Hammersley continuing at Full Back, Tuilagi will partner Alex Tait on the wing this weekend following Sinoti Sinoti’s head injury away to Sale in the last round of the competition.
Adam Powell and Juan Pablo Socino provide an unchanged centre pairing, both making their 27th appearances of the season, while Tom Catterick returns to Fly Half after a short period out due to illness.
Blair regains the number nine shirt and takes on captaincy duties in what will be the former British and Irish Lion’s final appearance in a Falcons shirt before taking up a playing and coaching role at Glasgow Warriors this summer.
Fellow Scottish international Scott Lawson and England international Kieran Brookes – the latter making his 83rd and final appearance for the club – continue in the front row, joined at Loosehead by USA international Fry.
Calum Green retains his position in the second row, this week partnered by recently capped Barbarian MacLeod who comes in for Kane Thompson.
The Falcons’ back row sees two changes, Mark Wilson moving over to the openside flank joined by Mayhew at blindside and Kolo’ofai at eight.
The Falcons bench sees five changes; Loosehead Rob Vickers joining Alex Rogers and George McGuigan as front row replacements.
Will Witty will be looking to make his third Aviva Premiership appearances while Andy Saull is in line to pull on the Falcons shirt for the last time before moving to Yorkshire Carnegie.
Joining Kibirige amongst the replacement backs are Ruki Tipuna and Anitelea Tuilagi.
Newcastle Falcons vs Harlequins:
15. Simon Hammersley, 14. Alex Tait, 13. Adam Powell, 12. Juan Pablo Socino, 11. Alesana Tuilagi, 10. Tom Catterick, 9. Mike Blair (c);
1. Eric Fry, 2. Scott Lawson, 3. Kieran Brookes, 4. Calum Green, 5. Scott MacLeod, 6. Richard Mayhew, 7. Mark Wilson, 8. Uili Kolo’ofai.
16. George McGuigan, 17. Rob Vickers, 18. Alex Rogers, 19. Will Witty, 20. Andy Saull, 21. Ruki Tipuna, 22. Andy Tuilagi, 23. Zach Kibirige.