Kieran Brookes could put a tough end to the club season behind him tomorrow - the Newcastle Falcons prop poised to make his full England debut against New Zealand in Dunedin.
The 23-year-old has been named on the bench against the world champions only three months after pushing over referee Greg Garner in a club game.
Brookes, who had been training with England and in with a shout of a Six Nations call-up at the time, was forced to sit out most of the relegation run-in after receiving a suspension.
Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards said: “It has been a difficult few years for Kieran.
“I am delighted to see him come through his injuries and that he is back to playing at the top level.”
Meanwhile, the Falcons have confirmed prop James Hallam has joined RFU Championship side London Scottish, whose American loose-head Eric Fry has already moved the other way.
Kiwi flanker Daniel Temm, who represented Tynedale in National One last term, joins the senior academy squad on a full-time deal, as does Newcastle University lock Will Witty.
Full-back Simon Hammersley has been retained after graduating from Durham University, fellow Palatinate Sean Robinson signing professional terms but being loaned to Rotherham for the season.
Durham School scrum-half Dan Taylor and Gosforth Academy lock Harry Snowdon both move into the senior academy squad, Scott Wilson and George McGuigan both stepping up into the first-team group.
Andy Smith, the Falcons’ former head of strength and conditioning, has taken up a post with Championship side Nottingham, while ex-Newcastle flanker Ed Williamson has been replaced as forwards coach at Rotherham.
Micky Ward, Newcastle’s front-row coach and Blaydon’s director of rugby, also leaves the South Yorkshire club, where he had been a part-time scrummaging consultant.
Suzuki Wailers, the invitational sevens side ran by Westoe director of rugby Andy Howells, ended the GB Sevens campaign by winning the Colwyn Bay leg of the televised series.
They defeated a star-studded Samurai outfit twice in the competition, Samurai having included USA international speedster Carlin Isles in their squad.
Wailers wing Dan Rundle was top try-scorer during the series, and will leave Tynedale for Coventry next season.
Gosforth RFC’s Druid Park, meanwhile, will tomorrow host the second leg of the Alnwick Rum Northumberland Sevens Series, the action getting underway at 11am as Novos sit top of the series standings ahead of Percy Park.
In rugby league Gateshead Thunder have announced the arrival of Kiwi half-back Jordan Meads, the former Melbourne Storm and New Zealand Warriors player, 22, joining from Sunshine Coast outfit, Kawana Dolphins.
The signing is Gateshead’s second since their takeover by Newcastle Falcons, the club now just a point and place away from the Championship One promotion play-offs after winning four of their last five.
As part of their link-up with the Falcons, season ticket holders of the Premiership rugby union side are being offered discounted entry to Thunder’s next two home matches against Oldham (June 22) and Hunslet (July 4).
Newcastle Falcons’ own pre-season friendly schedule is gradually shaping up, Edinburgh having confirmed they will take on Dean Richards’ side in the Scottish Borders on Friday August 29.
An exact venue and kick-off time are yet to be finalised, the two sides having attracted a strong attendance in Hawick at the same time last year.
French club Bayonne have announced they will host Newcastle in south west France on Thursday August 7, with an 8pm kick-off at their Stade Jean Dauger home.
In women’s rugby, Darlington Mowden Park’s Sophie Lee has been named in the England Sevens squad for this weekend’s FIRA/AER European Grand Prix event in the French town of Brive.