Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Scot Flying in to Centre Gap; Henderson Signs Deal to Replace Injured Tu'ipulotu

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Scot Flying in to Centre Gap; Henderson Signs Deal to Replace Injured Tu'ipulotu

Article excerpt

Byline: Nick Purewal

SEASONED Scottish international centre Andrew Henderson has plugged Newcastle Falcons' centre gap left by Tane Tu'ipulotu's hip injury.

The 30-year-old Montauban No 12 has signed a six-month deal to join Alan Tait's new-look Kingston Park squad.

Falcons head coach Tait expects the 53-cap centre to link up with his squad in early August, giving him time to settle his affairs in France and move his family to the North East.

Cash-strapped Montauban are struggling to hold onto their prized assets, and Tait told the Journal he was surprised and delighted when Henderson became available.

Teak-tough Tongan centre Tu'ipulotu has been a mainstay of the Falcons team ever since his 2007 switch from Wellington Hurricanes.

The rangy midfield operator underwent complex hip surgery earlier this summer though, and the Falcons medical staff are yet to nail down a date for his playing return.

Tait had not expected to be dipping into the transfer market for any further inside backs, after recruiting England Under-20 cap Luke Eves from Bristol and New Zealand playmaker Jeremy Manning from Munster.

Despite bringing South Shields-born powerhouse centre James Fitzpatrick to Newcastle from Blaydon at the start of the summer, Tait knew he had to act swiftly to provide adequate cover in the wake of the Tu'ipulotu injury. Tait has high hopes for former Westoe hardman Fitzpatrick, who can cut a suicide line with the best of them, but knows he must not rush a player who has now jumped four divisions in just two seasons.

To that end he scoured the transfer market for a suitable extra recruit, and was very happy - and a little relieved - to discover Henderson was hankering after a move back to the UK.

Henderson's capture means Tait can deploy either his latest recruit or Eves at inside centre, while Tu'ipulotu gets to grips with his rehab - and the former British Lion is pleased with that result. …

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