Team news: Mark Wilson back for Boxing Day

Friday 24 December 2021 Written by: Adam

The Rugby World Cup finalist has missed the entire season so far with a knee injury, and forms part of a squad which will see full-back Mike Brown making his 250th Gallagher Premiership appearance.

Centre George Wacokecoke returns from an eye-socket injury, while scrum-half Sam Stuart is set for a first outing of the season after recovering from a broken foot.

Despite having won their last four home games against the Sharks in Gallagher Premiership action, director of rugby Dean Richards is expecting an attritional contest against the Falcons’ northern rivals.

He said: “Sale are a side which will play in the predominantly South African way.

“They’ll exit off their nine and use their huge pack, so if we go too expansive then it might play into their hands a little bit.

“It’s about understanding where to play the game, how to break them down and when to strike. That’s the important thing against a side like Sale, and they’re a good team.

“They’ve got a lot of quality within their group, they’ll come here fired-up for the occasion and ready to play their part in a big Boxing Day game which is normally full of blood and thunder.

“We just have to get our act together in terms of understanding how we want to play, where we want to play and the pace at which we want to play.”

Hoping for a bumper crowd, Richards added: “Having a home game on Boxing Day is always a bonus, and is one of the first things that players and supporters look out for whenever the fixtures come out in the summer.

“I was brought up playing rugby on Boxing Day, and it was always a big fixture when I was at Leicester and we used to host the Barbarians.

“The guys will be used to it, though, and it’s just having that control in terms of what you do the day before.

“That normally dictates whether or not you have a big game, although I obviously played during the amateur times and probably indulged just a little bit more than the professional players of the current era in terms of tucking into the Christmas pudding and having a few beers!”

Sunday’s game is not on TV in the UK, so being there in person is the only way to see all the action live. Tickets for the 3pm kick-off are on sale by [**clicking here**][1].

Supporters attending the game do NOT require Covid passports. Please [**click here**][2] for details of our match-day protocols.

Those driving to the game are advised the Kingston Park Stadium car park is sold out, although a small number of overflow spaces are available at Kingston Park Primary School on a first come, first served basis, from around 12 noon.

Our East Stand Tap & Tackle bar will be open from 12 noon, with turnstiles and other stadium bars open from 1.30pm.

The Tyne & Wear Metro will be running a Sunday service until around 8pm. Details of Metro and local bus services can be found by **clicking here**.

**Newcastle Falcons team v Sale Sharks (Boxing Day, 3pm, Kingston Park Stadium)**

15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Penny, 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Pete Lucock, 11 Adam Radwan, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Sam Stuart; 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Trevor Davison, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Philip van der Walt, 7 Connor Collett, 8 Callum Chick.

**Replacements:** 16 Robbie Smith, 17 Kyle Cooper, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Gary Graham, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Will Haydon-Wood.

**Sale Sharks:** 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Joe Roebuck, 13 Rob du Preez, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Raffi Quirke; 1 Bevan Rodd, 2 Ewan Ashman, 3 Nick Schonert, 4 Jean-Luc du Preez, 5 Lood de Jager, 6 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Sam Dugdale, 8 Dan du Preez.

**Replacements:** 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Joe Jones, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Cameron Neild, 21 Gus Warr, 22 Sam James, 23 Luke James.

**Referee:** Karl Dickson.