Newcastle Falcons have been dealing with an unprecedented crisis at prop, with three of their tightheads out injured.
Prior to last Friday’s Champions Cup game with Edinburgh they had three tight-head injuries within 24 hours, and with Jon Welsh, Craig Mitchell and Paul Mullen all also unavailable, they had no tight-head cover.
Despite appealing to the EPCR to allow another player to be registed, it fell on deaf ears, with Dean Richards fuming at the competition organisers after he says he was effectively forced to play a loosehead at tighthead, potentially putting a player at risk of injury.
“You lose three tighthead props in 24 hours, you ask for dispensation to bring in another one and you’re not allowed that so you have to play a loosehead on the tight.
“It’s not like playing a left wing on the right wing or an inside centre at outside centre. There is a safety issue there and they weren’t prepared to address it so I was particularly disappointed with it.”
“For the integrity of the game and the competition the boys said ‘Look we’ll give it a go’, and to be fair to them they stuck at it,” he said.
Newcastle Falcons ultimately lost to Edinburgh, falling to a 31-13 defeat in Murrayfield.
After three injuries in the front row in the space of 24 hours…
Newcastle's injury crisis may land them in a spot of bother ?
Without the required number of specialist position players in the squad, the Falcons could face punishment…
Dean Richards is not impressed ? pic.twitter.com/E2gQlKvQx1
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) December 7, 2018
Payne is certainly not a veteran of the dark arts of playing tighthead with the former Australia Under-20’s forward moving to the club “with the intention of being converted into a prop, having previously played in the back row and second row”, according to his biography on the club website.
The 124kg, 1.95m converted prop made his Falcons debut last season and has also played on dual registration for Darlington Mowden Park.
Tom Penny who is out with an ACL injury has also been deregistered, with Scottish flanker John Hardie replacing him in the competition and he’s in line to face his former club for the first time since being let go at the end of last season.
The Falcons face Edinburgh at Kingston Park on Sunday where a win would put them back on top of Pool 5.
Watch: RugbyPass Exceptional Stories: Henry Fraser
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.