FORMER England and Newcastle Falcons wing Michael Stephenson has returned to his native North East after taking over as player-coach at newly-promoted Percy Park.
The 31-year-old forms part of a new coaching team alongside Ed Midcalf and James Ponton at Preston Avenue next season, with the Northumberland Senior Cup winners having also climbed up to National Three North after winning their promotion play-off match.
Chris McDine, Mark Carr and Nick Shepherd all step down from coaching roles, while Paul Jobson is retained in the coaching and managerial set-up.
Stephenson, capped three times by England, was a two-time Cup winner with Newcastle Falcons before leaving for Bath and most recently Leeds Carnegie. His 175 Premiership appearances have yielded 42 tries, with a further 25 tries in 55 European outings.
Joining him in the new-look coaching team is Midcalf, the former Darlington Mowden Park hooker and level three coach who for the past four years has ran the Newcastle Falcons AASE apprenticeship scheme at Gosforth Academy.
The vacancies at Percy Park arose after previous director of rugby Ponton, a former Premiership player with Leeds, took up a full-time position in as academy coach with the Falcons.