Jamie Helleur will start on the wing

Newcastle Falcons have made four changes for their round two Amlin Challenge Cup trip to Italian champions Petrarca Padova (kick-off 2pm).

Greg Goosen starts at full-back with Alex Tait replacing Rikki Sheriffe on the wing, while Jamie Helleur gets the nod at outside centre. Scrum-half Will Chudley is handed the No.9 jersey as he partners Jeremy Manning at the heart of the Falcons backline.

In the forward pack Andrew van der Heijden occupies a place in the engine room alongside skipper James Hudson.

“We have watched Petrarca on the video and they are a team that is going to get out there and give it their best shot,” said Head coach Alan Tait who guided his side to a winning start in Europe with victory over Lyon last week.

“This will be their cup final and they will certainly get in our faces so I can see it being a sticky game for us. We know what we are going over there for – it’s to get an away win and that’s important as we head into the Aviva Premiership game at Harlequins the following week,” added Tait.

Tait believes Saturday’s European game is a welcome distraction from the stresses and strains of the Aviva Premiership, saying: “If we played Aviva Premiership rugby every week the boys would be broken by Christmas as it is a really intense and stressful league. This is a good break for some guys and offers me the chance to take a look at some different combinations. It is important that we reward players for good performances for the A Team and this is a great opportunity to see them in action.”

The last two-weeks has seen Tait welcome new signings Samoan international Taiasina Tu’ifua, Tongan winger Suka Hufanga, and South African lock Adriaan Fondse as the club bolsters its armoury going into a series of crucial Aviva Premiership clashes.

The new signings will not feature this weekend but are expected to be pushing for selection next week as Aviva Premiership rugby returns.

Tait said: “We have done everything we can off the field and the players appreciate that but I think now is the time to bring in some real quality players. Semore Kurdi has given me the opportunity to bring these players in and I believe these lads will bring something special to the squad. I can’t wait to see them in action.”

Newcastle Starting XV:
15 Greg Goosen,
14 Alex Tait,
13 Jamie Helleur,
12 Luke Eves,
11 Ryan Shortland,
10 Jeremy Manning,
9 Will Chudley,
1 Ashley Wells,
2 Michael Mayhew,
3 Euan Murray,
4 James Hudson,
5 Andrew van der Heijden,
6 Tim Swinson,
7 Redford Pennycook,
8 Mark Wilson

16 Joe Graham,
17 Grant Shiells,
18 James Hall,
19 Glen Townson,
20 Will Welch,
21 Chris Pilgrim,
22 Joel Hodgson,
23 James Fitzpatrick