JEREMY Manning assumes the Newcastle Falcons No 10 shirt for this afternoon’s Amlin Challenge Cup opener against French visitors Lyon.
The New Zealander replaces countryman Jimmy Gopperth in one of seven personnel changes made by head coach Alan Tait for the first of their six European pool matches.
Manning gets a second fly-half start after impressing in the role during the LV= Cup trip to London Irish three weeks ago, with Gopperth rested up from European duty after a heavy Premiership workload and a host of bangs to the knee.
Elsewhere in the back-line Alex Tait drops to full-back as South African Greg Goosen moves to the bench - returning Kiwi Ryan Shortland coming onto the right wing after a month out with medial knee ligament problems.
Luke Eves takes the place of Samoan international Jamie Helleur at inside centre, while Jordi Pasqualin continues at scrum-half.
Upfront there are four further changes to the side which drew 16-all with Worcester last time out, two of which come in the front-row as Ashley Wells and Michael Mayhew replace Grant Shiells and Joe Graham at loose-head and hooker respectively. Tim Swinson is preferred to Andrew van der Heijden as partner to captain James Hudson in the second-row, while Ally Hogg drops to the bench as Mark Wilson switches to No 8 and Redford Pennycook fills the vacated gap on the blind-side flank.
The bench sees a return for centre James Fitzpatrick after six weeks out with a hernia, and the afternoon should also give supporters a first glimpse of World Cup star Taiasina Tu’ifua.
The Samoan international is due to land in Newcastle at lunchtime and, provided his flight goes to schedule, the flanker will be paraded on the field for a Kingston Park crowd containing a host of military personnel.
All current and ex-service men and women can gain free entry for the match.
Lyon come in showing eight changes from the starting XV from their last French league game a full three weeks ago, thanks to the mumps outbreak which has seen their last two matches scrapped. Gosforth-born Christian Short starts in the second-row.
Newcastle Falcons (v Lyon, home, today 3pm): A Tait, R Shortland, C Uys, L Eves, R Sheriffe, J Manning, J Pasqualin; A Wells, M Mayhew, E Murray, J Hudson (captain), T Swinson, W Welch, R Pennycook, M Wilson. Replacements: J Graham, G Shiells, J Hall, G Townson, A Hogg, W Chudley, J Fitzpatrick, G Goosen.
Lyon: E Tomamichel, J Bailey, A Fatafehi, W Sukanaveita, M Ratuvou, L Tranier, R Veniat; S Petit, J Bonrepaux, A Roux, C Short, A Dorier, J Leguizamon, J Sousa, N Bontinck. Replacements: A Testa, J Facundo, A Guillamon, A Marchois, E Nzi, R Januarie, R Lespinas, R Loursac.
Referee: J Jones (Wales)