Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Rotation Keeps Falcons Fresh for Sunday Service

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Rotation Keeps Falcons Fresh for Sunday Service

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith Sports Writer

HEAD coach Peter Russell has backed Newcastle Falcons' rotation policy to keep them fresh after three weeks of gruelling travel, as London Irish visit Kingston Park tomorrow.

Taking eight flights in as many days en route to central France and Romania, the Falcons have also been hitting the motorway with a senior game at Worcester, and reserve outings at Northampton and Gloucester, since their last home game a month ago.

Such quirks of the fixture list can pop up from time to time, Newcastle not helped by their geographic isolation from the rest of the Premiership pack, one which sees Manchester and Leicester as their two closest stop-offs.

Both of those journeys have been made already, Russell stating: "We have had three weeks on the road with some big trips, and a lot of travel.

"The boys have bounced back well from that, and training has been positive during the week.

"Bringing in some fresh blood from our injury list has helped, and the way the squad rotation has gone has meant the players have been kept as fresh as we can realistically expect."

Russell's point is borne out by the stats, Newcastle having made 10 changes for their trip to Bucharest and a further nine for last weekend's defeat in Brive.

The side to face London Irish tomorrow shows seven alterations from the 23-16 loss, notably at half-back, where Mike Blair and Rory Clegg return.

The pair have been spared European duty as the Falcons focus on a league campaign which has hitherto delivered two wins from five, leaving them on the same total of points as an Exiles side who have cantered through their own European fortnight.

Back from injury for Newcastle is Danny Barnes, the Irish centre who has been out for six weeks after hobbling off at Sale.

He replaces James Fitzpatrick, a re-jigged back three seeing Alex Tait back from the virus which made him a late withdrawal from last Saturday's bonus-point loss.

Tom Catterick replaces Sean Brown on the wing, while Scottish prop Grant Shiells is in line for his first league outing of the season. …

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