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Mike Brown set for Newcastle debut, Saracens call in Mako Vunipola

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Ex-England full-back Mike Brown will make his first Premiership appearance for Newcastle this Saturday when the Falcons visit a Saracens team that includes Mako Vunipola for his first match since his Lions tour was followed by his recent omission from the England squad. 

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Saracens boss Mark McCall has issued a warning to England not to write off the Vunipola brothers, Mako and Billy, as well as Jamie George as he believes all three long-serving Test players still have much to offer at international level and all three are included to start in a Premiership match that is the club’s first home game in the tournament since a draw with Bath twelve months ago.

There are four changes to the starting Saracens XV from the side that narrowly lost at Leicester last weekend. Aside from Vunipola at loosehead, Callum Hunter-Hill comes into the second row, Sean Maitland is on the wing while Dom Morris is included in the midfield.

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Brown, meanwhile, will be gunning to make a good first impression for Newcastle after a pre-season rib injury ruled him out of the start of a campaign that began with a visit to Kingston Park by his old club Harlequins.  

The veteran full-back is part of a starting XV showing five changes from last weekend’s dramatic home win over Wasps. Brett Connon comes in at fly-half, Trevor Davison is at tighthead, Sean Robinson at lock and Gary Graham is added to the back row mix.

Former Saracens winger Nathan Earle also starts against his former club having made a successful Newcastle debut last weekend. Falcons boss Dean Richards said: “Our morale is good after two wins against Bath and Wasps, although it is a shame it wasn’t three in a row with the Harlequins game on the first weekend of the season. We felt we could have gotten a little bit more out of that one, but we are going to Saracens on Saturday with plenty of confidence and belief that we can get the job done.

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“Mike is someone who really wants to win and he promotes and demands excellence around him. Even without playing, he has been a part of what we have done this season just by his influence around the place, and that experience will prove its worth even more now that he is available to come in and play for us.”

SARACENS: 15. Max Malins; 14. Alex Lewington, 13. Dom Morris, 12. Alex Lozowski, 11. Sean Maitland; 10. Owen Farrell (capt), 9. Aled Davies; 1. Mako Vunipola, 2. Jamie George, 3. Marco Riccioni, 4. Callum Hunter-Hill, 5. Tim Swinson, 6. Nick Isiekwe, 7. Ben Earl, 8. Billy Vunipola. Reps: 16. Tom Woolstencroft, 17. Eroni Mawi, 18. Alec Clarey, 19. Sean Reffell, 20. Andy Christie, 21. Ivan van Zyl, 22. Alex Goode, 23. Nick Tompkins.

NEWCASTLE: 15. Mike Brown; 14. Adam Radwan, 13. Ben Stevenson, 12. Pete Lucock, 11. Nathan Earle; 10. Brett Connon, 9. Louis Schreuder; 1. Adam Brocklebank, 2. George McGuigan, 3. Trevor Davison, 4. Marco Fuser, 5. Sean Robinson, 6. Gary Graham, 7. Will Welch (capt), 8. Callum Chick. Reps: 16. Jamie Blamire, 17. Kyle Cooper, 18. Logovi’i Mulipola, 19. Will Montgomery, 20. Josh Basham, 21. Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 22. Will Haydon-Wood, 23. George Wacokecoke.

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