Team news: Young leads side for Leicester trip

Tuesday 18 October 2022 Written by: Adam

The former Leicester player forms a half-back partnership with Tian Schoeman as Newcastle set out in search of their first victory in this season’s competition.

Former Saracen Elliott Obatoyinbo starts at full-back in a back-line containing Iwan Stephens, the winger who scored a try and made another during the Falcons’ pre-season trip to Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

Phil Brantingham returns to the side at loose-head prop, with Matthew Dalton continuing in the second row after making his Gallagher Premiership debut away to Northampton Saints last weekend.

Marcus Tiffen, Matt Deehan and Tom Marshall form an all-academy back row, with Newcastle’s bench including potential competitive debuts for Vereimi Qorowale and Luke Coulston.

The Falcons have also taken the opportunity to rotate their coaching pool for the 7pm kick-off, with head of academy James Ponton taking charge.

He said: “I’ve done this for a few seasons now and it’s always really useful, but as well as that we’ve got a number of academy staff members involved like our coach PJ Butler, our analyst Nick Todd and our S&C coach Michael Ferguson.

“It’s good for those guys just to be in and around that senior environment, and most importantly I think it creates a more seamless link between how we’re trying to play at Under-18s level and what the younger players will then experience when they step up to the first team.

“Bridging that gap is incredibly difficult because, especially for forwards, we can only expose them to so much at Under-18s level. Even the guys who play for England Under-18s, when they first transition into a Falcons first team session they’re miles away, because the gap is just so big.

“As a coach you’re thinking ‘I’ve wasted all that time because they’re nowhere near’, but they learn really quickly and these Premiership Cup games are a great platform for those guys to come in and get a taste of it. We find they bridge the gap very quickly once they’re exposed to it, but in practical terms it’s really hard finding other ways to get that experience into them.”

Relishing the prospect of travelling down to take on the Tigers, Ponton said: “We are going to Leicester with a strong side, and it’s great to have plenty of experience in there as well as a number of our promising young players.

“It should make for a good fixture, and going down to Welford Road is an occasion for any player regardless of the qualification chances. The experience the lads will get from it will be massive and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Asked about potential debutant Luke Coulston, Ponton said: “Luke is one of our academy guys who has come through our system all the way from age 15, and he attended our ACE programme at Gosforth Academy as well as playing some England age-group stuff.

“He is one we have high hopes for, and while he might be a little bit lean at the moment he’s working really hard to mature, bulk up and continue his development. He’s very athletic and fearless in defence, and what a place to make his debut.

“We’ve also got some great experience there with the likes of Micky Young, Alex Tait and Tian Schoeman to name a few of them, and as a coach you’d be stupid not to tap into that.

“They’ve got a wealth of knowledge, a lot of them have played away against Leicester already this season and it’s invaluable having that knowhow within the group. They’ve been great during the build-up, they want to be involved and they’re really good with the youngsters, so for me as a coach that’s fantastic to hear.”

Wednesday’s game is not being televised or streamed, but there will be live radio commentary from the BBC Newcastle team on the BBC Rugby website and BBC Sport app.

**Newcastle Falcons team v Leicester Tigers (Wednesday, 7pm, Mattioli Woods Welford Road).**

15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Alex Tait, 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Ewan Greenlaw, 11 Iwan Stephens, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Michael Young (captain); 1 Phil Brantingham, 2 Charlie Maddison, 3 Mark Tampin, 4 Matthew Dalton, 5 George Merrick, 6 Marcus Tiffen, 7 Matt Deehan, 8 Tom Marshall.

**Replacements:** 16 Ollie Fletcher, 17 Conrad Cade, 18 Conor Kenny, 19 Luke Coulston, 20 Vereimi Qorowale, 21 Josh Barton, 22 Louie Johnson, 23 Zach Kerr.

**Not available for selection:** Callum Chick, Sam Clark, Trevor Davison, Nathan Earle, Carl Fearns, Gary Graham, George McGuigan, Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando, Josh Peters, Greg Peterson, Oliver Spencer, Philip van der Walt, Will Welch.

**Leicester Tigers:** 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Lachlan Shelley, 13 Jacob Cusick, 12 Joseph Woodward, 11 Hosea Saumaki, 10 Jed Walsh, 9 Sam Edwards; 1 James Whitcombe (captain), 2 Tom Horton, 3 Will Hurd, 4 Tom Manz, 5 Lewis Chessum, 6 Josh Manz, 7 Emeka Ilione, 8 Sean Jansen.

**Replacements:** 16 Archie Vanes, 17 Nephi Leatigaga, 18 Tim Hoyt, 19 Rob Carmichael, 20 Finn Carnduff, 21 Josh Goodwin, 22 Morgan Meredith, 23 Joe Browning.

**Referee:** Andrew Jackson.