Newcastle Falcons welcome back a pair of internationals to their starting XV for this weekend’s Aviva Premiership Rugby trip to Gloucester, as the side make four changes to the team that faced Northampton Saints last weekend.
Italy winger Giamba Venditti and Tonga scrum half Sonatane Takulua return to the starting XV in place of Alex Tait and Michael Young, while in the forwards, a further pair of changes sees Calum Green and Richard Mayhew take up positions in the second and back rows.
In a positional switch from last weekend, Mark Wilson moves from the blindside flank back into the second row, in place of the absent Sean Robinson, who sits out this weekend’s fixture in a precautionary measure after leaving the field with a strain against Saints.
Remaining in situ from the 26-25 win, Simon Hammersley will again occupy the fullback position, while, Marcus Watson retains the number 11 after a lively performance last Sunday to complete the Falcons back three.
The all English centre pairing of Adam Powell and Chris Harris will make their fifth starts of the campaign as a combination and will be keen to repeat the performance they delivered against Jim Mallinder’s side.
The pair were among a number of players to shine for the Falcons last weekend by effectively contained and limited the influence of centre Luther Burrell, who went on to receive an England call up after the game.
Kingston Park’s latest cult hero Andy Goode retains the fly half shirt for the weekend’s encounter for his fourth start for the club.
Up front, Scott Lawson returns to his old stomping ground as the Falcons starting hooker and will pack down with Rob Vickers, who continues to holms in on his 200th appearance for the club and Taione Vea, who continues to display his international credentials on the tight head side.
Behind the new second row combination of Green and Wilson, Will Welch and Ally Hogg join Mayhew on the back row and retain their openside flank and number 8 positions from six days ago.
On the replacements bench, George McGuigan, Alex Rogers and Kensuke Hatakeyama remain as the Falcons front row options, with Mouritz Botha and Todd Clever covering the second and back rows.
It will be Clever’s first involvement since returning from USA Eagles duty in the Americas Rugby Championship, where he lead by example with his captaincy and try scoring efforts placing the team at the top of the standings heading into the final rounds.
Having been named as this weekend’s starting nine, Takulua swaps jerseys with Michael Young who take to the bench as the replacement scrum half, while Craig Willis and Juan Pablo Socino complete the match day 23.
NEWCASTLE FALCONS SQUAD
v Gloucester Rugby 27/2/2016
15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Giamba Venditti, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 1 Rob Vickers, 2 Scott Lawson, 3 Taione Vea, 4 Calum Green, 5 Mark Wilson, 6 Richard Mayhew, 7 Will Welch (C), 8 Ally Hogg
16 George McGuigan, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Todd Clever, 21 Michael Young, 22 Craig Willis, 23 Juan Pablo Socino.