French prop Franck Montanella has become Newcastle Falcons’ latest signing, as they gear up for life in the Aviva Premiership.
The London Welsh loosehead comes into a Falcons squad without the services Jonny Golding following the retirement of the England Saxons man, with Scotland A cap Grant Shiells among the other contenders for the No 1 shirt.
Signing a two-year deal with the Falcons, the 31-year-old scored two tries in his 16 league appearances last season for London Welsh, managing to shine in a team which ultimately dropped back down to the second tier of English rugby.
Montanella’s only international appearance for Les Bleus came in 2007 during their tour of New Zealand, when he came on as a replacement during a 42-11 loss in Auckland.
Weighing in at over 19 stone, the 6ft 1in scrummager is a well-travelled commodity, having previously packed down with Narbonne, Strasbourg, Auch, Pay’s d’Aix and Bourgoin.
Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards believes he has the nuggety qualities required to get his side on the front foot for their top-flight return, stating: “Franck is the type of player I have been looking for, to really strengthen our front-row.
“He is a solid scrummager and brings a lot of experience to the club having played in the French leagues, where it can be a hostile environment for props to play their rugby.”
Montanella said: “Newcastle has a great reputation in the game, and I can’t wait to join up with my new team-mates. There is a superb coaching set-up with Dean Richards in charge, and after a good experience with London Welsh I’m delighted to be back playing in the Aviva Premiership.”