Los Pumas centre Matias Orlando is set to make his Gallagher Premiership debut as Newcastle Falcons name him in their starting line-up to face Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate.
The 47-times-capped Argentina star has been named at inside centre and is one of three former Jaguares signings: In December, Dean Richard’s side announced the capture of flanker Santiago Grondona and Argentina sevens star Mateo Carreras.
“We’re very happy with how we’ve started [the Gallagher Premiership season],” said head coach Dave Walder. “There was a lot of uncertainty with stepping up a division after such a long break without a game, but we’ve got a lot of momentum. We probably caught Bath on the hop a little bit in our first game, Sale at home wasn’t a great watch but we just about got there, and then we won at Wasps the week after.
“It was disappointing to have the Boxing Day home game against Leicester cancelled because everyone was looking forward to it, but that’s just the world we’re living in at the moment. We were confident going into Boxing Day but it wasn’t to be, and the main thing is you just hope that everyone’s OK down at Leicester.”
Elsewhere No.8 Philip van der Walt also making his Premiership debut in a game which has been moved to a 3pm kick-off. Mark Wilson captains the side having made a successful return from injury in Newcastle’s 26-17 away victory over Castres.
“In all my years in rugby when you talk about someone who keeps themselves in unbelievable shape and gives absolutely everything in training, he’d definitely be in the top few.
“Everyone knows about his ability and leadership on the field, but even when he hasn’t been playing he’s been a big influence behind the scenes. He’s our captain now, he’s matured even more and it’s just great having him around.”
Sam Stuart, who scored in both of the Falcons’ recent European encounters, starts at scrum-half, with Toby Flood moving to fly-half.
George Wacokecoke comes in to start at outside centre for a Falcons side who have won all three of their Gallagher Premiership games this season, the Kingston Park outfit having also been awarded a further four points from their cancelled Boxing Day match against Leicester Tigers.
Jamie Blamire starts at hooker having earned man-of-the-match honours against Cardiff Blues during the recent European window, while Newcastle’s bench could see a Premiership debut for hooker Charlie Maddison.
“Bristol are a great team to watch, I enjoy what they do and when you look at the spine of their team I think any coach would love having the luxury of so many stars at their disposal.
“The way they play in terms of attacking from deep reminds me a bit of an NFL philosophy, by which I mean the further back you are the more space there is in front of you.
“It’s very entertaining as a spectator and it’s very tough to shut down, but we’ve got a few ideas about that which we hope to be able to show on Friday.”
Newcastle Falcons team to face Bristol Bears
15 Tom Arscott
14 Adam Radwan
13 George Wacokecoke
12 Matias Orlando
11 Ben Stevenson
10 Toby Flood
9 Sam Stuart
1 Trevor Davison
2 Jamie Blamire
3 Logovi’i Mulipola
4 Greg Peterson
5 Marco Fuser
6 Sean Robinson
7 Mark Wilson (captain)
8 Philip van der Walt
16 Charlie Maddison
17 Kyle Cooper
18 Mark Tampin
19 Connor Collett
20 Josh Basham
21 Louis Schreuder
22 Brett Connon
23 Gareth Owen
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