Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mystery of Who Plays for Falcons

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mystery of Who Plays for Falcons

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stuart Rayner

Newcastle Falcons will delay naming their team for Sunday's European Challenge Cup semi-final against London Irish ( not to keep the Exiles guessing but because coach Rob Andrew does not himself know yet.

Andrew has to name a starting XV today, but five players will undergo fitness tests tomorrow.

Andy Perry (shoulder), Geoff Parling (shoulder), Toby Flood (knee), Andy Buist (back) and Matt Thompson (thigh) are all doubts. The problems are generally niggles rather than serious concerns and although Andrew was revelling in keeping the media guessing, there were genuine reasons behind his selecting a 25-man squad.

"Under tournament regulations we have to name a starting XV by noon, but a number of our squad will have fitness tests at Saturday's training session so it will be subject to change," the director of rugby warned.

"It's nothing sinister, it's just the usual end-of-season situation where quite a few of the lads are carrying knocks, and we're giving them the chance to be fit."

His caution has been heightened by the nature of the game Andrew expects to face against a side third in the Premiership.

"They've changed completely the way they're playing," he explained. "They've got an awful lot of width and pace and that's the other thing we've got to be careful of.

"Their game against Leeds last week was end-to-end stuff so we've just got to make sure we've got the right balance on the field and the bench.

"We've got to make sure the players we pick are 100% because it's going to be a very quick game.

"Their back three of (Delon) Armitage, (Sailosi) Tagicakibau and (Topsy) Ojo is absolutely electric and they have forwards with a lot of pace, so we can't afford any passengers."

With that and his growing injury list, Andrew has taken a softly-softly approach in training. …

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