Team news: Two changes for Worcester trip

Friday 01 April 2022 Written by: Adam

Fly-half Brett Connon and back-rower Josh Basham come into the side for the 3pm kick-off at Sixways Stadium – the latter replacing Callum Chick, who misses out after injuring his obliques last weekend at Wasps.

The Falcons are looking to extend their unbeaten record against Worcester in the Gallagher Premiership to five games, having drawn 24-24 at Kingston Park Stadium back in November, going on to beat the same opposition 31-26 in European action the following month.

Last weekend’s hat-trick at Wasps means hooker George McGuigan tops the Premiership’s try-scoring charts with 12 touchdowns in his 17 games, while lock-forward Sean Robinson tops the league for line-out steals (10) as well as being second for line-out takes across the entire division (93).

On the bench Newcastle welcome back Ben Stevenson after four months out with an ankle injury, with Kyle Cooper also named among the replacements following his successful return to action during Wednesday’s Premiership Rugby Cup trip to Northampton.

Director of rugby Dean Richards said: “The injury situation tends to ebb and flow, for example we’ve got Ben Stevenson back this week and have lost Matias Orlando.

“Matias was on the bench last weekend but injured his calf warming up during the game, so we couldn’t bring him on. It’s just incredibly unlucky on a guy who has had a difficult season with injury, and on his day is a top international centre. It doesn’t look like a serious injury – it’s just a tweak, and hopefully it will only be a week or two.

“On the flip side we’ve got Ben back to sit on the bench on Saturday, which is great news. He’s a quick, powerful lad who knows his way to the try-line and possesses a lot of footballing ability, so it’s great to have him available again for selection.”

With all but four of his starting XV having been part of the club’s academy system, plus a further five of his replacements, Richards said: “For us, it’s about developing players from our locality, and we’ve gone on the record as saying that’s our philosophy going forward.

“We’re blessed with a really good academy system which is outstanding at developing the great talent we have on our patch, and we’ll stick with that. Of course, we’ll bring people in from outside who we feel can have an impact, but unless they have some exceptional qualities that they can bring to the table we’ll stick with developing our own players.

“It’s a long-term view, and it’s not just about Newcastle Falcons. We believe we can develop rugby in the North East and Cumbria as a by-product of what we’re doing, and that stretches right across to Barrow and up to the Scottish Borders.

“If we just looked at our own well-being and not that of rugby across our region, I’d be pretty disappointed, and that is reflected in the way our academy is run as well as how our squad is constructed.”

Expecting a physical test at Sixways Stadium, the Falcons boss added: “Worcester have turned a bit of a corner. They’ve always been a pretty abrasive and difficult side to play against. They’ve got a strong back row, Matt Kvesic is good over the ball and they’ve got some exciting backs.

“They make more line-breaks than most sides in the Premiership, it’s just that ability to finish them off that they haven’t necessarily had at times. They’re definitely a dangerous side, though, and it should be a good game down there.”

Confident they can turn the corner to record a first Premiership win of the calendar year after a string of near misses, Richards added: “But for the bounce of a ball or a referee’s decision we’d probably have won a few of those, against quality opposition as well.

“We’re there or thereabouts. I know it’s frustrating for people that we haven’t been able to get one over the line in the league for a little while now, but we can take a lot of heart from the performances we’ve been putting in.”

[**Click here to buy the live stream**][1] of Saturday’s game for £4.99, or book your round pass for £6.99, which covers all the games not being shown live by BT Sport or ITV.

**Newcastle Falcons team v Worcester Warriors (Saturday, 3pm, Sixways Stadium)**

15 Tom Penny, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Louis Schreuder; 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Trevor Davison, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Josh Basham, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Freddie Lockwood.

**Replacements:** 16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Kyle Cooper, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Rob Farrar, 21 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 22 Will Haydon-Wood, 23 Ben Stevenson.

**Worcester Warriors:** 15 Noah Heward, 14 Alex Hearle, 13 Oli Morris, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Gareth Simpson, 1 Rory Sutherland, 2 Niall Annett, 3 Christian Judge, 4 Joe Batley, 5 Graham Kitchener, 6 Kyle Hatherell, 7 Ted Hill (captain), 8 Sione Vailanu.

**Replacements:** 16 Isaac Miller, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Justin Clegg, 20 Jack Forsythe, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Perry Humphreys.

**Referee:** Adam Leal.