30 September 2005
Issued on behalf of Newcastle Falcons
Newcastle Falcons have made four changes to their side for Sunday's Powergen Cup match against Sale Sharks at Kingston Park (kick-off 2.30pm).
England Under-21 star Toby Flood comes in to the side at fly half in place of Dave Walder, while another No.10 also returns to the fold as Jonny Wilkinson takes up a place on the bench after having his appendix removed.
There is an entirely new front row as David Wilson and Tino Paoletti replace Micky Ward and Robbie Morris respectively, while at hooker Matt Thompson comes in for Andy Long.
On the bench, Academy captain and England Under-21 scrum half Lee Dickson earns a call-up after a string of impressive performances for the Development Team, while American lock Luke Gross also returns.
Lock Andy Buist made his comeback from a long-term knee injury on Monday with 20 minutes for the Academy, while players not considered due to injury this weekend are: Phil Dowson (neck), Stuart Grimes (ribs), Ian Peel (neck), Ollie Phillips (leg) and Joe Shaw (ankle).
Speaking on the decision to call up Academy pair Flood to the starting XV and Dickson to the bench, director of rugby, Rob Andrew, said: "The Development Team has become the real vehicle for people to put pressure on first team players by playing well and breathing down their neck, and both Toby and Lee have been absolutely outstanding in the games they've played at that level.
"It's an opportunity for us to give Toby a start, because he deserves it. You have to have the confidence to put these guys in, and you're not going to find out what they're made of if they're sitting up in the stand watching it instead of being involved."
With Dave Walder the man to miss out this week, Andrew explained: "Dave was outstanding at Northampton and then like a lot of the team not as effective against Bath.
"We already know Dave's qualities, what he can and can't do, but the same can't be said for the likes of Toby and Dicko, so we have to try them. When they're playing as well as they have been every week for the Development Team there comes a point when you simply can't keep leaving them out of the first team.
"For a long time we have recognised Toby as a very talented player, and it's time to take him to the next level now. He's come on as a replacement a few times and sparked us in to life, plus he has all the skills and a fantastic attitude. I have very high hopes for him, and he will be a really good player if he continues the way he has developed so far.
"This is the ideal time really because the rest of the backline he's playing in is vastly experienced, so they will help him along, plus he has Mathew Tait looking electric again outside of him."
Hailing the efforts of Dickson as well as half back partner Flood, Andrew added: "They have basically both fought their way in to the England Under-21 side when neither of them were favourites to get their respective places behind Ross Broadfoot of Leicester and Ben Foden at Sale.
"Dicko is extremely vocal at scrum half and loves to boss the game, plus his work rate is exceptional, so I have no qualms at all about sticking him on the bench and bringing him on."
With the prospect of a fit-again Jonny Wilkinson making his comeback from the bench following an appendix operation, Andrew said: "At the time he went in for the operation we thought it would be four weeks out, and by Sunday it will be just under that four week mark.
"It was a keyhole operation, and he's a very fast healer as well as being incredibly fit, so he's trained with us all week and there's no question he's ready.
"I'm not making any promises about how long he will play, but he will get on at some stage.
"He just needs a clear run of three or so months playing something near 80 minutes a week before people can start making judgements on him, and I think after the injuries he's had then he's due a good run of health."
The Powergen Cup, of course, is a competition which holds fond memories for the Falcons, having won it twice in the last four years, and Andrew has insisted that his side is not taking the tournament lightly despite the need to address matters on the Premiership front.
"Quite the opposite really, and if you look at the team we've named as a whole, we're taking this competition very seriously indeed," he said
"In many respects the Powergen Cup has come at a good time, because clearly we've got some issues to fix and we haven't been happy with how we've started the season.
"There have been patches of excellent rugby, but in some games we've been taken apart upfront which just isn't good enough.
"We're working hard to fix the problem with the technical work we've been doing this week on stopping the rolling maul and line out defence, and there is still some gelling being done with the players coming in to the squad after four competitive games.
"We're all frustrated with some aspects of our forward play, but we've just got to be patient and keep working at it because we have personnel of a high enough quality to turn it round."
Some of that frustration has even crept in to the Kingston Park terraces, with Andrew stating: "The supporters are frustrated, as we are ourselves, and we know we owe them because they follow us all round the country. "The rugby they've seen at Kingston Park this season, apart from half an hour against Bath, has been extremely poor, and hopefully with a clean slate and a new competition on Sunday we can go some way to repaying them." With a new look to Powergen Cup this season, Andrew has nothing but praise for the changed format.
"The Powergen Cup definitely needed a revamp because it had got a little bit stale, but I think involving the Welsh regions is a great idea and it's really brought it to life again," he said.
"To make a double-header semi-final at the Millennium Stadium would be a great occasion, followed by a Twickenham final, so the motivation is definitely there to take it seriously, which is exactly what we are doing." Tickets are still available for Sunday's game by calling 0871 226 60 60, logging on to the official club website or calling at Kingston Park during office hours.
15 Matthew Burke
14 Anthony Elliott
13 Jamie Noon
12 Mark Mayerhofler
11 Mathew Tait
10 Toby Flood
9 Hall Charlton
1 David Wilson
2 Matt Thompson
3 Tino Paoletti
4 Andy Perry
5 Geoff Parling
6 Owen Finegan
7 Cory Harris
8 Colin Charvis (captain)
16 Micky Ward
17 Andy Long
18 Robbie Morris
19 Luke Gross
20 Ben Woods
21 Lee Dickson
22 Jonny Wilkinson
Philippe Saint Andre has named his team for this Sunday's Anglo Welsh Powergen Cup game at Kingston Park against Newcastle Falcons.
Philippe who makes several changes from the side that beat Saracens last Sunday said, " We are now approaching that time of the season where I need to plan for the International players being away and decided this was a game where I could give some of my Internationals a break and give squad players a competitive game. We have a good strong squad this season and several of the players I have chosen this weekend have been unlucky not to have featured in the first four rounds of the Guinness Premiership and deserve an opportunity to show what they can do against a good Newcastle Falcons team. These are the players who will be playing during the International breaks and we know that we will be able to compete in this important competition."
Steve Hanley and John Carter make their long awaited comebacks after picking up injuries at Wasps at the end of last season, Nick Wakley makes his senior debut after joining the club from Doncaster, as does Nathan Bonner Evans who joined the Sharks from the Ospreys. Sililo Martens and Ben Coutts also make their first appearances of the season.
Team: Steve Hanley, Nick Wakley, Elvis Sevalai'I, Robert Todd, Oriol Ripol, Daniel Larrachea, Sililo Martens, Lionel Faure, Andy Titterrell, Ben Coutts, Christian Day, Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, Peter Anglesea (Captain), John Carter, Nathan Bonner Evans.
Replacements: Stuart Turner, Barry Stewart, Dean Schofield, Magnus Lund, Ben Foden, Valentin Courrent and Jason Duffy