Newcastle Falcons name team to face Saracens in Gallagher Premiership
Flying winger Adam Radwan makes his first Gallagher Premiership start at Kingston Park Stadium on Sunday when Newcastle Falcons kick off the new season at home to champions Saracens.
The 20-year-old Teessider’s sensational pre-season form has been recognised with a starting spot in the league after scoring in all three of his summer friendlies, Radwan last season having won the Anglo-Welsh Cup Breakthrough Award as well as being top try-scorer in the European Challenge Cup.
He forms part of a side which sees a club debut for prop Logovi’i Mulipola, the vastly-experienced Samoan having joined from Leicester Tigers, as well as a second Falcons ‘debut’ for hooker George McGuigan as he begins his second spell with the club.
Will Welch captains a Newcastle side looking to build on last season’s fourth-placed Premiership finish, their highest in 20 years, while prop Jack Payne is set to make his Premiership debut after being named among the replacements.
The Falcons have won their opening-day match for the past two seasons, Dean Richards confident they can thrive despite a testing start to the campaign.
“It’s great to be facing the champions first up, and these are the challenges that get you excited,” said the Falcons boss, who was named Premiership director of rugby of the season for 2017/18.
“We then travel to Leicester away, Worcester away, which has been a difficult place for us in recent years, and then we face Exeter, Wasps and Sale before meeting Toulon and Montpellier in Europe. It’s an incredibly tough run on paper but that’s the company we’re now in, and you have to test yourselves against these kinds of teams if you’re going to get anywhere.
“The Gallagher Premiership is the hardest club competition in the world, and as such you’ve got to accept there are no easy games. I’m honestly licking my lips at the first two months’ fixtures, because this is what we live for. We’re pitting our wits against the best and I’m delighted about that.”
Crediting a Saracens side who were victorious in last season’s ‘home’ fixture between the two clubs in the American city of Philadelphia, Richards said: “It’ll be nice to play them in Newcastle, and the boys will be buzzing from the support they get from our home crowd.
“It looks like being a good attendance and the public up here are really getting behind the club, which just goes to show the rugby interest there is within the region.
“In terms of Saracens they play the least amount of rugby inside their own half out of any side in the league, so there’ll be a lot of ball in the air from them. But it’s effective, and it’s effective because they’ve got quality players and they’ve spent a huge amount of money on their squad. They’ve got a star-studded squad which plays a really simple, effective brand of rugby, and if that’s what it takes then so be it.
“You’ve got to take your hat off to them because they’re an outstanding team, they’re very well drilled and they’ve won a load of trophies in recent seasons. You can’t argue with that, and it should be a good game.”
Tickets for Sunday’s 3pm kick-off are available by calling 0871 226 6060.
Newcastle Falcons team to play Saracens (Sunday, 3pm, Kingston Park Stadium)
15 Simon Hammersley
14 Vereniki Goneva
13 Chris Harris
12 Josh Matavesi
11 Adam Radwan
10 Toby Flood
9 Sonatane Takulua
1 Sami Mavinga
2 George McGuigan
3 Logovi’i Mulipola
4 Calum Green
5 Will Witty
6 Mark Wilson
7 Will Welch (captain)
8 Callum Chick
16 Santiago Socino
17 Adam Brocklebank
18 Jack Payne
19 Tevita Cavubati
20 Gary Graham
21 Sam Stuart
22 Joel Hodgson
23 Alex Tait
Referee: Ian Tempest