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Newcastle name team after the lifting of French travel restrictions

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

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Newcastle have named their team for Friday night’s European Challenge Cup match at Biarritz after the lifting of travel restrictions was announced by French tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne which will take effect from the morning of the game.

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With four UK clubs due to play French teams this weekend, there was concern over the stipulation that travelling teams would be required to undergo a 48-hour quarantine pre-game and take in a round of PCR testing in France where a positive outcome could result in players/staff having to spend ten days in insolation rather than be allowed to return home.

However, the latest developments will ensure that travellers from the UK who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to enter France if they have evidence of a negative coronavirus test taken within 24 hours of departure, while a requirement to isolate on arrival will be scrapped.

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This has given the green light for Bath, Sale, Scarlets and Newcastle to travel to La Rochelle, Clermont, Bordeaux and Biarritz for their respective Champions and Challenge Cup matches, but official confirmation is still awaited from tournament organisers EPCR.

It brings an end to a week of confusion that threatened to further damage the credibility of the European tournaments which last month suffered from a multitude of called off matches. Newcastle, who are the first of the UK quartet in action in France, plan to fly out on Friday morning and they have now pressed ahead with their team announcement as scheduled. 

Ex-England full-back Mike Brown will captain a side showing eleven changes from the one which started last Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership defeat at home to Northampton, with Pete Lucock and George Wacokecoke coming into the centres and Adam Radwan returning on the wing.

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With the Falcons looking for their fifth successive away victory in Challenge Cup pool action, Brett Connon and Sam Stuart form the half-back partnership. Adam Brocklebank and Mark Tampin Jamie join Blamire in a freshened-up front row, with Rob Farrar coming in at lock in front of a back row which sees call-ups for Gary Graham, Connor Collett and Callum Chick.

Prop Conrad Cade will make his first-team debut if he comes on from the bench, with the loosehead having spent much of this season at Championship side Doncaster Knights.

NEWCASTLE (vs Biarritz, Friday)
15. Mike Brown (capt); 14. Adam Radwan, 13. George Wacokecoke, 12. Pete Lucock, 11. Nathan Earle; 10. Brett Connon, 9. Sam Stuart; 1. Adam Brocklebank, 2. Jamie Blamire, 3. Mark Tampin, 4. Greg Peterson, 5. Rob Farrar, 6. Gary Graham, 7. Connor Collett, 8. Callum Chick. Reps: 16. George McGuigan, 17. Conrad Cade, 18. Logovi’i Mulipola, 19. Will Montgomery, 20. Josh Basham, 21. Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 22. Will Haydon-Wood, 23. Luther Burrell.

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