Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Gopperth Boost for Flagging Falcons

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Gopperth Boost for Flagging Falcons

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Leslie

JIMMY GOPPERTH makes a welcome return to the Falcons line-up as they look to kickstart their Premiership campaign with a win over Saracens.

Newcastle entertain the Londoners having only won one of their five league outings so far - a record which has seen them plummet to second from bottom and has had some mention a potential relegation battle at this early stage.

Saracens have had no such problems - despite boss Brendan Venter's regular rants against authority - and sit third in the Premiership knowing full well that if results go their way this weekend, a bonus-point victory over the Falcons could see them top the table.

Venter has named a strong-looking side packed with pace and power, and Gopperth's clean bill of health after resting a long-term ankle problem will no doubt have brought a huge sigh of relief among the Falcons coaching team.

Falcons head coach Alan Tait told The Journal: "Jimmy's been like a spring chicken in training this week and he's raring to go.

"He's had two weeks off during the European window which we had planned since the start of the season.

"We all know he's had an ankle niggle, so in order for him to shake that off he sat out the Bourgoin and Montpellier games.

"Was I tempted to leave him out for an extra week in case Saracens would target him on his first game back? Not at all. This break, as I say, was planned in advance and he can't wait to get out there."

Tait was also keen to bring the Kiwi back into the set-up after scrum-half Mickey Young also received the all-clear to start.

He added: "Mickey is threat head on. We have had to contend with injuries again in our selection, but it's the same for every side.

"Saracens come up here without their fly-half Derick Hougaard, who has been an important figure for them this season before doing his Achilles last weekend. …

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