Carreras returns for Newcastle on Friday

Carreras returns for Newcastle on Friday

Mateo Carreras returns for Newcastle Falcons on Friday night when Bristol Bears visit Kingston Park in Gallagher Premiership action.

The Argentina wing returns from a hamstring injury for the 7.45pm kick-off, with flanker Guy Pepper also back from a thigh problem to form part of a starting XV including nine academy graduates.

Centre Jordan Holgate makes his Falcons debut, with the South African spending the past couple of months training with the club after helping Jersey Reds to the RFU Championship title last season.

Lock-forward Sebastian de Chaves makes his 50th appearance for Newcastle, whose squad arrived back from South Africa on Tuesday following a delayed return from their EPCR Challenge Cup game in Johannesburg.

Head coach Alex Codling was among a core group of players and staff remaining on Tyneside to prepare for Friday’s Premiership return, explaining: “It was always going to be a challenging turnaround so we put in place a plan from the outset to try and mitigate against the travel and the effect it would have on our preparation.

“We’ve been going for 15 weeks straight and you can’t just roll out the same players all the time, so as well as keeping guys fresh it’s also been a great opportunity for some to come in and put their hands up for selection.

“We showed a lot of resilience at home to Montpellier after going 17-0 down, and looking like we were going to come back and win the game towards the end. We then had a really tough fixture in Johannesburg last Saturday where it was a great trip from a cohesion and connection perspective, and the boys worked very hard against a good Lions side.

“The squad had their flight home cancelled on Sunday which meant they had to spend an extra night in Johannesburg before taking a three-flight route via Cape Town, where they were split into a couple of separate groups.

“Our team manager John Stokoe did a fantastic job of managing that situation in difficult circumstances, but the reality is the guys didn’t get back until Tuesday for a Friday game after more than 30 hours of travelling. That obviously limits what they are able to do in training, but through the measures we’d put in place we have hopefully minimised effects of that going into Friday’s game.”

Looking ahead to the visit of Bristol Bears, Codling said: “It’s a game we’re hugely looking forward to, and we’re excited by the opportunity of taking on a strong Bristol side in front of our own supporters.

“They’ve recruited extremely well with the likes of Benhard Janse van Rensburg and Virimi Vakatawa joining them in the centres, and their main DNA is around moving the ball. We are striving to be the same so it will hopefully be an open game, and the biggest thing for us is around minimising our errors.

“Bristol are deadly from turnover ball and we have to be alive to that, but we’re really up for the challenge and looking to put in a big performance.

“Seb de Chaves plays his 50th game for the Falcons, which is a great achievement for a guy who has worked incredibly hard for us, and then having the likes of Guy Pepper and Mateo Carreras available again will obviously be a big boost.

“They are both quality players who can have big impacts on games, and I’m also looking forward to seeing Jordan Holgate out there having trained with us for quite a while now following the situation over in Jersey. He will bring a real physical edge to our midfield which will help get us some important go-forward.”

Asked about the importance of Friday’s game, Codling said: “We want to win every time we take the field, and the players and staff are all working extremely hard to make it happen.

“We’ve had a number of narrow losses where we could and should have closed out the result, and had we done that the narrative around us would be very different. We are where we are, but we’re striving to keep moving forward and improving our game all the time.

“In conjunction with that we’re also working to develop the many talented young players we have at the club who are making some great strides, and I’m looking forward to testing ourselves against quality opposition on Friday.”

Newcastle Falcons team v Bristol Bears (Friday, 7.45pm, Kingston Park Stadium)

15 Tom Penny, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Oliver Spencer, 12 Jordan Holgate, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Louie Johnson, 9 James Elliott; 1 Phil Brantingham, 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Eduardo Bello, 4 John Hawkins, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Sam Cross, 7 Guy Pepper, 8 Callum Chick (captain).

Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Kiran McDonald, 20 Pedro Rubiolo, 21 Hugh O’Sullivan, 22 Rory Jennings, 23 George Wacokecoke.

Not available for selection: Sam Clark, Isaac Keller, Richard Palframan, Mark Tampin, Marcus Tiffen, Philip van der Walt.

Bristol Bears: 15 Max Malins, 14 Gabriel Ibitoye, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 11 Rich Lane, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Harry Randall; 1 Jake Woolmore, 2 Harry Thacker, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 James Dun, 5 Joe Batley, 6 Steven Luatua, 7 Fitz Harding (captain), 8 Magnus Bradbury.

Replacements: 16 Gabriel Oghre, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 George Kloska, 19 Josh Caulfield, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 James Williams, 23 Noah Heward.

Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe.

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