25 Man squad travelling to Bayonne for first pre season friendly
Newcastle Falcons have named a 25 man squad for this evening’s friendly against Aviron Bayonnais in South West France as the club’s preparations for the new Aviva Premiership season move into its final phase.
Following an intense summer of work, the fixture against Top 14 opposition is the first of three matches for the team before they face Leicester Tigers on September 6th and will provide a first opportunity to trial the squad and its new style of play in a competitive environment.
New signings Rob Hawkins, Calum Green, travel with a solid team that includes 7s stand outs Sean Brown, Simon Hammersley, and Lee Smith that Director of Rugby Dean Richards is looking forward to seeing in action.
Richards said: “It has been a long summer and the coaches and players have been working extremely hard to prepare for the new season and it will be good to get out onto the field and play a game.”
“Bayonne are going to provide a bit of an unknown quantity, they have side a number of new players and are in a bit of a transition with the number of players they have signed. However we are looking at our own game and developing our own game and this is the first time we will be able to implement some of Dave Walder’s new ideas in attack.”
“Playing a team like Bayonne is a benefit for us as we are playing quality opposition. They have some good players in their side and like all French sides; they operate a slightly different structure to their game and will attack you at virtually all elements of the game.” Flying in and out in a day, the squad numbers have been deliberately kept to a level more representative of those that would form a squad during the season to make the game as realistic a simulation as possible.
“We’ve deliberately taken a small squad so they get a feel of playing a game properly as it would defeat the object of playing Bayonne if we were just rolling players on and off after 20 mins. We’re also pretty fortunate in that we have a number of pre season fixtures still to come so we are going to be able to make sure everyone gets the game time they need before we start the season in September.”
With both clubs at different stages of pre season (Bayonne play their first league game next week) the Falcons DOR is very keen to stress performance this evening outweighs results.
“As a Director of rugby at a number of clubs, I've won a handful of pre season games and while there is an element of confidence gained through winning friendlies, it is always more about how you are building towards the season.”
NEWCASTLE FALCONS SQUAD
Irving, Fry, McGuigan, Hawkins, Tomaszczyk, S Wilson, Barrow, Green, Macleod, M Wilson, Mayhew, Welch, Saull, Hogg, Fury, Blair, Clegg, Godman, Sinoti, Helleur, Powell, Barnes, Brown, Smith, Hammersley