Newcastle Falcons’ Jeremy Manning will make a welcome return to full-back for Saturday’s crunch Aviva Premiership clash with Leeds Carnegie at Kingston Park (kick-off 3pm).
The talented Kiwi was carried off on a stretcher during the Falcons magnificent 33-18 triumph over Harlequins, at Kingston Park on 4 March following a heavy collision. But after a rigorous rehabilitation programme over the past five weeks, the 25-year-old is available for selection for this weekend’s premiership showdown.
Head coach Alan Tait has made four further changes to his starting line-up, as the Scotsman rotates his back division and forward pack. Top try scorer Luke Fielden returns to the right wing, while Alex Tait switches from full-back to the other flank, with Tane Tu’ipulotu occupying inside centre.
Jonny Golding starts in the front row alongside Matt Thompson, with giant Kiwi lock Andrew Van der Heijden partnering Tim Swinson in the engine room. James Hudson misses out through injury as Tait hands New Zealander Jimmy Gopperth the captaincy for this crucial rearranged fixture.
“I really want us to open up and play a fast, attacking game,” said Tait.
“That style of play can be difficult on wetter pitches, but the conditions on Saturday should be perfect. The improved weather will suit us, and we certainly train that way in terms of getting the ball through the hands and looking to attack.”
The northeasterners defeated their West Yorkshire counterparts 22-5 back in February, and Tait acknowledges that tomorrow will be a big test of character for his players, saying: “We are in our own back yard, the boys have been playing some good rugby and we are starting to show that we can live with the top teams in the Aviva Premiership.
“In the past fortnight we have played two really good sides in Saracens and Gloucester, and we have lived with their intensity for an hour or so.
“A little bit of indiscipline has hindered us in the latter stages of those games, but I am sure that if we play how we have been training then we can get the result.
“We beat their A-Team 40-3 up here a fortnight ago, but it was only 5-3 at half-time and they were fighting for every single ball. They were very physical, and they won’t change much for this weekend even though the personnel will be different.”
15 Jeremy Manning
14 Luke Fielden
13 Luke Eves
12 Tane Tu’ipulotu
11 Alex Tait
10 Jimmy Gopperth (captain)
9 Micky Young
1 Jonny Golding
2 Matt Thompson
3 Euan Murray
4 Tim Swinson
5 Andrew Van Der Heijden
6 Mark Wilson
7 Will Welch
8 Ally Hogg
16 Rob Vickers
17 Grant Shiells
18 Kieran Brookes
19 Filipo Levi
20 Alex Gray
21 Chris Pilgrim
22 Gcobani Bobo
23 Rob VickermanLike Rugby World? Subscribe to the magazine for the latest comprehensive content.
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