Dean Richards is expecting Joel Hodgson to provide a fresh approach to fly-half play for Newcastle Falcons during this evening’s Amlin Challenge Cup crunch tie with Brive.
The 21-year-old has had to turn to Rotherham for meaningful minutes after being snubbed for Premiership selection by the director of rugby – Phil Godman and Rory Clegg having dominated the No 10 shirt during a stuttering league campaign.
Hodgson has shone at the Championship level, Richards stating: “It is a great opportunity for Joel. He has been very fortunate to have the chance to go and play at Rotherham over the past month or so, to get the game-time he really needs.
“In that respect he should be up to speed, and he brings a different approach to the role. His enthusiasm is fantastic.”
Richards makes 10 changes from the side so disappointingly beaten by Sale Sharks last Friday, saying: “The team we have selected against Brive is not as a result of the Sale game.
“It is affording opportunities to people rather than being a reaction to our last match, and is part of our preparation going forward. A number of guys have a chance to show us what they are about in a big game against a good side, and the team we have selected is every bit as competitive as the one the other evening. It is basically winner takes all in terms of going through to the quarter-finals. The stakes are high, and it is nice to have nights like this.”
Captain Will Welch is among those returning, wing Zach Kibirige earning a call-up after scoring four times in two games for Blaydon and Tom Catterick handed a start at full-back.
French visitors Brive have changed all but one of the side which beat Montpellier on Saturday, centre and goal-kicker Thomas Laranjeira the only man to keep his place.