Team news: 250 up for Will Welch

Sunday 16 May 2021 Written by: Adam

Newcastle native Welsh forms part of a Falcons side roared on by a sell-out crowd of 1,750, with the 7.30pm Gallagher Premiership kick-off being used as a test event for the safe return of fans.

“It’s going to be absolutely brilliant,” said head coach Dave Walder, whose side are looking to build on last weekend’s 52-27 home win over London Irish.

“It’s been a long time coming, but we’re just so excited about getting some of our supporters back inside the stadium. From the moment the game got pushed back to the Monday there’s been a real buzz around the place because everyone knows fans are coming back, and the boys are all looking forward to it.

“It’s going to be strange because we’ve all got used to just having the two sets of replacements and coaching staff in the stands, but sport is about fans, and this is the moment that everyone has been waiting for.

“I say we’ve got used to rugby without fans, but that doesn’t mean we’ve enjoyed it. It’s just been something we’ve all had to deal with, and it’s almost been like mini rugby at times with being able to shout instructions straight down to the pitch because it’s so quiet inside the ground.”

Back-row forward Welch hits a major appearance milestone having made his first team debut as a 17-year-old, and his head coach has nothing but praise for the effervescent Geordie.

“Playing 250 games for your hometown club is an unbelievable achievement – especially in the forward pack with the way the game has gone,” said Walder.

“It says so much about Will that he has been so durable, and he’s stuck with the club through thick and thin. He’s always at the forefront, he never shies away from anything and to play that number of games with his confrontational style is just incredible.

“Hopefully we can celebrate his milestone with a victory, because if ever someone deserved it, it’s him.”

Newcastle welcome Adam Brocklebank and George Wacokecoke into their line-up as they look to build on last week’s seven-try triumph, Walder saying: “The London Irish game gives us confidence – certainly the second half of it, anyway.

“In the first half there were a few bits and pieces which weren’t great, but we had a chat at half-time and the players responded brilliantly.”

He added: “When I sit in our coaching box I’m basically a fan, and I want to enjoy watching us play.

“Winning is important, and that’s why we’re here, but I want to come to work and watch us winning in a way that people will enjoy.

“Last Saturday we got that, and hopefully the confidence we can take from the way we moved the ball around will give us that belief going into the last four rounds of the season.”

**Newcastle Falcons team to face Northampton Saints (Monday, 7.30pm, Kingston Park Stadium, live on BT Sport 1 Extra)**

15 Tom Penny

14 Adam Radwan

13 Matias Orlando

12 Luther Burrell

11 George Wacokecoke

10 Brett Connon

9 Louis Schreuder

1 Adam Brocklebank

2 George McGuigan

3 Mark Tampin

4 Greg Peterson

5 Sean Robinson

6 Will Welch

7 Mark Wilson (captain)

8 Callum Chick


16 Jamie Blamire

17 Kyle Cooper

18 Rodney Ah You

19 Philip van der Walt

20 Carl Fearns

21 Sam Stuart

22 Joel Hodgson

23 Chidera Obonna

**Northampton Saints:** 15 George Furbank, 14 Ollie Sleightholme, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Tommy Freeman, 10 James Grayson, 9 Tom James; 1 Alex Waller, 2 Sam Matavesi, 3 Paul Hill, 4 David Ribbans, 5 Api Ratuniyarawa, 6 Tom Wood, 7 Lewis Ludlam, 8 Teimana Harrison.

**Replacements:** 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Alex Coles, 20 Shaun Adendorff, 21 Henry Taylor, 22 Fraser Dingwall, 23 Tom Collins.

**Referee:** Matthew Carley