Peter Stringer will make his debut in Friday’s Aviva Premiership humdinger with Worcester Warriors at Sixways Stadium (kick-off 7.45pm).
The experienced scrum-half is one of seven changes for the trip as director of rugby Gary Gold eyes a crucial triumph which would see the Falcons cut London Wasps' deficit to just four points at the foot of the Premiership tree.
Matt Thompson replaces the suspended Rob Vickers at hooker, while Euan Murray returns to the front-row after sitting out the Harlequins match with a calf injury. Deadline day signing James Goode partners Tim Swinson in the engine room.
Meanwhile there are changes on either side of the wing with Alex Tait starting for the first time since suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury last November, and Corne Uys is back in the mix following a rib injury.
Jeremy Manning rounds off the changes as he occupies the full-back berth with Greg Goosen dropping to the bench.
“Worcester have got a DNA which they buy into and they are where they are in the league because they are tough to beat especially at home,” said defence coach Mike Ford.
“Richard Hill is a smart operator and he might feel disappointed that his side are not higher up the table, but he will be delighted that they are not in this relegation fight.
“We have got the utmost respect for Worcester and they are going to fight for everything – I know their defence coach Phil Larder and he is doing a great job down there.
“The Worcester game is one of those where we know what is coming and we know what we have to do to beat them.
“It is certainly going to be a tight game and the referee has a crucial role to play, and hopefully he will make some good calls. We have to win the ruck and attack-wise we are going to have to speed things up.
“We have had a good three weeks preparation for this game and the boys are ready to kick-on,” he added.
Stringer’s tantalising inclusion at No.9 excites Ford, whom he coached during a four year stint in the Ireland set-up.
Ford said: “When we were talking about bringing him in we understood that to execute our game-plan then we need to get the ball into Jimmy Gopperth’s hands pretty quickly.
“The guy has got a world class pass which is accurate and quick, and from my side of things I needed a guy who has got experience.
“He has 98 Irish caps and he knows when to fill in the defensive line, when to cover and when to kick. In the meetings and on the training field he brings so much to the table and hopefully he can show that on Friday.”
Newcastle: 15 Jeremy Manning ,14 Corne Uys, 13 Jamie Helleur, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Alex Tait, 10 Jimmy Gopperth (c), 9 Peter Stringer, 1 Jonny Golding, 2 Matt Thompson, 3 Euan Murray, 4 Tim Swinson, 5 James Goode, 6 Taiasina Tu’ifua, 7 Will Welch, 8 Ally Hogg
Replacements: 16 Joe Graham, 17 Grant Shiells, 18 Ashley Wells, 19 Adriaan Fondse, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Greg Goosen, 23 Rikki Sheriffe
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