Team news: Four debutants for Wasps trip

Tuesday 20 September 2022 Written by: Adam

Fly-half Thomas and lock-forward Peters joined the Falcons in the summer from Ospreys and Doncaster respectively, with former Saracens full-back Obatoyinbo arriving last week on a two-month deal.

Winger Greenwood, 18, made his England 7s debut over the summer, with the former Whitley Bay Rockliff flyer coming through the Falcons’ ACE programme at Gosforth Academy.

Hooker Charlie Maddison captains a Newcastle team showing the full 15 changes from Saturday’s league trip to Leicester Tigers, with England Under-20s international Louie Johnson starting at inside centre.

Iwan Stephens starts on the wing after a pre-season campaign which saw him scoring a try and making another away to Leicester Tigers, with scrum-half James Blackett part of a starting XV containing nine current or former Falcons academy players.

Centre Jeremy Civil is another debutant in waiting, with the Falcons’ ACE graduate having played his junior rugby with Wensleydale RFC and Cumbria.

The Falcons have drafted in a trio of local student players to complete their match-day squad, with Northumbria University lock Will Hopes being joined among the replacements by Newcastle University pair Rory Ward and George Bennett-Teare, the latter of whom made a similar guest appearance away to Northampton Saints during last season’s competition.

Tonight’s trip to Wasps is the first of four Premiership Rugby Cup games for the Falcons, who host Sale Sharks on Tuesday September 27 before travelling to Leicester Tigers on Wednesday October 19, completing their pool campaign at home to Northampton Saints on Saturday November 19.

The three pool winners and one best runner-up will progress through to the semi-finals on February 24/25/26, with the final to be held on May 2/3.

Fitting the cup games into a packed league programme has proved a challenge for head coach Dave Walder, who said: “A Saturday to Tuesday turnaround is unusual for us and feels like a bit of a football fixture list.

“We’ve got three away games in the space of eight days, which would stretch any squad, and when you chuck in the number of injuries we’ve had then it’s just one of those things.

“We’ve got a good group of lads who are desperate to play rugby, though, and for a lot of those guys this will be a great opportunity.”

A former Wasp in his own playing days, the former England fly-half said: “It’s important for us to go down to Wasps and get our first win of the season, but the fact we’ve got those three away games inside the same week just dictates our decision-making in terms of the squad we will travel down with.

“It’s great for us to get a proper look at some of our lads in that match scenario, although the timing probably isn’t ideal with the way the fixtures have fallen.

“It is what it is, though, it’s a great opportunity for the lads and we’ll go down there looking forward to giving it a good go.”

Tonight’s game is not on TV and is not being live-streamed, but there will be live radio coverage from the BBC Newcastle team on their DAB frequency as well as the BBC Rugby website, BBC Sport app and Freeview channel 719.

**Newcastle Falcons team v Wasps (Tuesday, 7.45pm, Coventry Building Society Arena)**

15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Nathan Greenwood, 13 Zach Kerr, 12 Louie Johnson, 11 Iwan Stephens, 10 Josh Thomas, 9 James Blackett; 1 Conrad Cade, 2 Charlie Maddison (captain), 3 Conor Kenny, 4 George Merrick, 5 Josh Peters, 6 Matt Deehan, 7 Marcus Tiffen, 8 Tom Marshall.

**Replacements:** 16 Ollie Fletcher, 17 Mark Dormer, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Will Hopes (Northumbria University), 20 George Bennett-Teare (Newcastle University), 21 Rory Ward (Newcastle University), 22 Ben Douglas, 23 Jeremy Civil.

**Not available for selection:** Adam Brocklebank, Callum Chick, Luke Coulston, Matthew Dalton, Nathan Earle, Gary Graham, Pete Lucock, Matias Moroni, Logovi’i Mulipola, Chidera Obonna, Matias Orlando, Tom Penny, Guy Pepper, Vereimi Qorowale, Charlie Smith, Sam Stuart, Philip van der Walt, Michael Young.

**Guest player bios:**

**George Bennett-Teare:** Back row, Newcastle University, 01/02/2002, 193cm, 110kg.

**Will Hopes:** Lock, Northumbria University, 20/7/2001, 194cm, 105kg.

**Rory Ward:** Lock, Newcastle University, 01/03/2003, 196cm, 108kg.