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Team news: Falcons name side for Connacht clash



Friday 20 January 2023

Philip van der Walt starts for Newcastle Falcons on Saturday as they host Irish province Connacht in the EPCR Challenge Cup.

The 5.30pm kick-off at Kingston Park sees Newcastle playing the final one of their four group games in the competition, with Van der Walt making his first start since injuring his knee in May. The South African came off the bench during the second half of last weekend’s trip to Cardiff, and forms part of a side showing eight changes.

Tucuman try machine Mateo Carreras returns on the left wing, with Alex Tait starting at full-back in place of the suspended Elliott Obatoyinbo, who was shown a red card last time out.

Michael Young captains the side from scrum-half, while there are five changes to the Falcons’ forward pack.

A full new front row sees Logovi’i Mulipola, Jamie Blamire and Trevor Davison in from the start, with Sebastian de Chaves returning to the second row.

Argentina international Pedro Rubiolo is set to make his home debut from the bench after coming on last weekend in Wales, while back-five forward Freddie Lockwood is poised to return from an ankle injury.

Newcastle are in a five-way fight for the last remaining spot in the round of 16, with Perpignan, Brive, Zebre and Bath also vying for the knock-out place.

Head coach Dave Walder said: “We’re in a bit of a strange position in that we really want to go through in the competition and have named a strong team, but by the time the game comes around results elsewhere might mean we’re already eliminated.

“We can’t worry about that – all we can do is just look to play well and win our game, and then we’ll deal with whatever does or doesn’t happen from there.

“It’s slightly strange that we’re still in a position to go through to the knock-out rounds despite losing all three of our games so far, but if by the time our game kicks off we’re still alive in the competition we’ll do everything in our power to make sure we do what we need to qualify.

“It could be the case that results in other games have cut that avenue off to us, but we still want to play well in front of our home fans, give them a performance to be proud of and use it to build towards the games we have left this season.

“From a mind-set and preparation point of view it’s actually really simple despite all the various permutations flying around. We just want to play well and give a true account of ourselves against a very good Connacht side.”

Newcastle were beaten 22-8 when they travelled to Galway last month, with Walder saying: “We’re definitely not taking anything for granted because Connacht are a dangerous outfit who have done well so far in the competition, and they’ll provide a big test for us.

“They’re really well coached, they have threats right throughout the team and it will be a good game.

“We were disappointed by how we went last weekend down at Cardiff. At 14-3 down we had a big overlap but threw an interception, so instead of being 14-10 it was 21-3, and when we then had a man sent off just before half-time it was always going to be really difficult from there.

“As always there’ll be a big emphasis on securing our possession, especially with the way Connacht compete at the set-piece. They’ve got lots of strings to their bow, but if we stay to our systems and don’t give them a chink of light then we’re in with a much stronger chance of shutting down their play-makers and strike runners.”

Newcastle’s preparation has this week included a visit from cricketing icon Ben Stokes, with the England test captain spending more than an hour taking questions from Falcons players and staff.

“He had a lot of really interesting things to say, based on being positive in everything you do and having a really aggressive mind-set,” said Walder, himself a former England Schools cricket captain.

“He was talking about having a belief and a philosophy, and sticking to it regardless of outside noises. He’s a really impressive bloke, as you’d expect, and it was just something different for the players and staff which really got them engaged.”

Click here to buy tickets for Saturday’s game, which IS included on the season ticket.

Click here to buy the EPCR TV stream.

Newcastle Falcons team v Connacht (Saturday, 5.30pm, Kingston Park)

15 Alex Tait, 14 Ben Stevenson, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Pete Lucock, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Michael Young (captain); 1 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Trevor Davison, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Gary Graham, 7 Philip van der Walt, 8 Carl Fearns.

Replacements: 16 Charlie Maddison, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Freddie Lockwood, 20 Pedro Rubiolo, 21 Josh Barton, 22 Josh Thomas, 23 Adam Radwan.

Not available for selection: Callum Chick, Sam Clark, Connor Collett, Brett Connon, Matthew Dalton, Matt Deehan, Tom Marshall, Matias Moroni, Elliott Obatoyinbo, Guy Pepper, Tom Penny, Sean Robinson, Oliver Spencer, George Wacokecoke, Will Welch.

Referee: Pierre-Baptiste Nuchy (France).

Source – Newcastle Falcons Rugby





Sale Sharks have agreed a deal to sign Fiji captain Waisea Nayacalevu from French Top14 side Toulon. 

The explosive centre, who starred for his country during the recent World Cup, has signed a one-year contract with an option for a further year. 

He will join up with Alex Sanderson’s Sharks squad ahead of the start of the 2024/25 Gallagher Premiership season. 

Waisea, 33, said: “I’ve watched the Premiership for a long time and it’s always been in the back of my mind that I would love to play there one day and experience rugby in England. 

“Now that opportunity has arrived and I’m really, really happy and grateful. I’m so excited to get over there and join the boys and see how I can contribute to the team. 

“I have spoken to Telusa Veainu and he only has positive things to say about the club and about Manchester. 

“I’m looking forward to playing with some of the guys I’ve played against, like Tom Curry and George Ford. But I also know there are a lot of really talented young players in the Sale Sharks squad and I’m excited to share my experience and help them develop as much as I can.  

“I told Alex that it’s what I’ve been doing for the last few years of my career and it’s something I’m passionate about.” 

Nayacalevu, who stands at 6’4” and weighs in at 16st 7lb, spent ten years at Top14 side Stade Français before making the switch to Toulon in 2022.  

He has won 34 caps for Fiji, slotting in at both centre and on the wing, and captained his country at last year’s World Cup, where the Pacific Islanders made the quarter-finals, losing 30-24 to England in Marseille. 

He also famously scored for Fiji in their memorable pre-World Cup win against England at Twickenham. 

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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Falcons star to join Saracens



Phil Brantingham to join Saracens

Tuesday 05 March 2024 Written by: Tom Grisedale

Prop-forward Phil Brantingham will leave Newcastle Falcons in the summer to join Saracens.

The 22-year-old has played 25 games for his home town club, and leaves with the thanks and best wishes of everyone at the Falcons.

Chairman of rugby Matt Thompson said: “Phil has done well for us and we made him a good offer to stay here.

“We respect his decision and wish him all the best for his move in the summer, but between now and then he will be fully committed to finishing the season strongly for Newcastle Falcons.”

Source – Newcastle Falcons Rugby

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Sale Sharks can confirm that forward Cobus Wiese will leave the club at the end of the season to return to South Africa. 

The 26-year-old lock has played almost 80 games for the club and scored five tries since joining from the DHL Stormers ahead of the 2020/21 season. 

He played a key role last year as Sale reached the Premiership final, and this season he has featured a further 13 times for Alex Sanderson’s side. 

Alex said: “Cobus will be missed by all of us on so many levels. He’s the most polite and courteous of people off the field, but the most wildly excitable man on the field, and on a night out. 

“To say Cobus wears his heart on his sleeve is to do him a disservice with regards to his emotional commitment for which his body has paid the price on occasion.  

“He leads by example and has earnt the respect and adoration of the group both on a professional and a personal level. We wish him every success and happiness with his move back home.” 

Everyone at Sale Sharks would like to thank Cobus for his contribution to the club and the team during his time here and we wish him all the very best for the future.  

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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