Phil Godman has been handed fly-half duties as Newcastle Falcons travel to Aviva Premiership high-flyers Saracens tomorrow.
The experienced Scot comes into the side in place of Rory Clegg, the former Harlequin having struggled during last weekend’s 13-11 home victory over London Irish.
Hitting his kick-off out on the full, missing touch with his first penalty and throwing a risky miss-pass inside his own 22 during a nervy start, Clegg has been removed from the firing line as director of rugby Dean Richards rotates his squad for one of the toughest assignments they will face all season.
Captain Will Welch returns on the open-side flank after making a successful return from injury as a replacement, his inclusion seeing Mark Wilson shift back to his more accustomed role on the blindside.
The domino effect of that means Dom Barrow resumes duties in the second row at the expense of Fraser McKenzie, the Scot who is restricted to a place on the bench after leaving the field with an injury on Sunday.
The only other changes to the Falcons’ starting XV is in the front-row, England Saxons cap Kieran Brookes given a run at tight-head prop, while former Saracens wing Noah Cato comes in for Tom Catterick.
Sarries welcome back former England and Lions fly-half Charlie Hodgson, Argentina centre Marcelo Bosch making his first league start for the London club, who are without five players on England duty. Their head coach Mark McCall said: “Newcastle will be well organised and have players capable of quickly changing games.”
NEWCASTLE FALCONS: A Tait, N Cato, D Barnes, A Powell, R Shortland, P Godman, M Blair; R Vickers, S Lawson, K Brookes, C del Fava, D Barrow, M Wilson, W Welch (captain), A Hogg. Replacements: G McGuigan, G Shiells, S Wilson, F McKenzie, R Mayhew, W Fury, R Clegg, J Fitzpatrick.
SARACENS: A Goode, M Tagicakibau, M Bosch, C Wyles, D Strettle, C Hodgson, N de Kock; R Barrington, J George, M Stevens, S Borthwick (captain), M Botha, J Wray, W Fraser, E Joubert. Replacements: S Brits, N Auterac, P du Plessis, G Kruis, J Burger, R Wigglesworth, D Taylor, B Ransom.
Referee: M Carley. Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3pm.