Newcastle Falcons welcome a host of their returning Rugby World Cup stars into their match day squad for Saturday’s game against Northampton Saints, as they make a total of six changes to their starting XV.
In a strong team, two of the changes come on the wings as Giovanbattista Venditti makes his club debut and Alesana Tuilagi makes his first start of the season, giving powerful strike options out wide.
The rest of the backline remains unchanged from the season opening game against Gloucester, with Simon Hammersely at fullback, Adam Powell and Chris Harris in the centres, with Ruki Tipuna and Mike Delany the halfbacks.
A total of four changes come in the pack, with Scottish international tighthead prop Jon Welsh making his club debut following his return from World Cup duty, joining Rob Vickers and Scott Lawson in the front row.
Another swap in the second row sees Italian international Josh Furno switch with England international Mouritz Botha to pack down alongside Calum Green.
Tongan international Nili Latu joins Venditti in making his first start for the club on the openside flank, as Will Welch lies in wait on the bench after passing tests following a knock to the head against Gloucester.
As a result, the remainder of back row sees a positional shuffle with Todd Clever moving to the blindside while Ally Hogg comes in at number eight, from where he will also captain the side.
On the bench, a good mix of international class and some of the clubs best home produced talent, with Eric Fry, Taione Vea, Botha and Welch providing the experience alongside the exuberance of George McGuigan, Ruaridh Dawson, Tom Catterick and Tom Penny.
With a strong squad expected to be announced by the Saints, hopes are high that both sides will contribute to an exciting afternoon of rugby at Stadium:MK
Newcastle Falcons v
Saturday 24th October 2015 – KO 13:45
15 Hammersley, 14 Venditti, 13 Harris, 12 Powell, 11 Tuilagi, 10 Delany, 9 Tipuna, 1 Vickers, 2 Lawson, 3 Welsh, 4 Green, 5 Furno, 6 Clever, 7 Latu, 8 Hogg (C)
Replacements 16 McGuigan, 17 Fry, 18 Vea, 19 Botha, 20 Welch, 21 Dawson, 22 Catterick, 23 Penny.