Tu’ipulotu set to make Falcons debut

New signing Tane Tu’ipulotu is in line for his Newcastle Falcons debut, having been named on the bench for Sunday’s EDF Energy Cup clash with Gloucester at Kingston Park (kick-off 3pm).


The Tongan centre only arrived on Tyneside on Thursday lunchtime, but pending registration issues and jet-lag the two-time Ranfurly Shield winner will line up among the replacements in the final round of pool matches.

Director of rugby, Steve Bates, said: “Tane only landed in the country today, but he came to the training ground straight from the airport before even dropping his luggage off.

“That says a lot to me about him as a person and his commitment to this club. He is definitely keen to play, there are just a few issues we need to iron out in terms of his registration first, because we couldn’t start that registration process until he physically arrived in the country.

“On top of that we need to monitor him closely from a physical standpoint to make sure the effects of jet lag don’t put him at any additional risk, but his attitude upon arriving here today suggests to me that he wants to get straight in.

“Providing we can tick all of those boxes then Sunday represents an ideal chance to integrate Tane, to get him familiar with what we do ahead of what is a vital November schedule for us in the Guinness Premiership. From what we have seen he is a very gifted footballer and a real athlete who will add a lot to this team, so we are obviously keen to give him a run-out as soon as possible.

“We won’t take any risks, if he’s not right then he won’t play, but the benefits of getting him involved are such that we will look to get him out there providing he is ready to do so.”

Despite the Falcons having already been knocked out of the EDF Energy Cup, Bates has selected a strong side and insists there is still plenty to play for.

“Ahead of the November Premiership games, Sunday represents a great chance for us to look at certain combinations, and improve our play in some key areas which have not been as efficient as we would have liked throughout September and October.

“Gloucester have a lot of injuries and some EPS commitments which might affect their team selection, although we were obviously disappointed to hear that Olly Barkley has been released from the England squad because he could well be a very significant player for them.

“They are going for the win which would book them a place in the semi-finals of this competition, but we are certainly not treating this like a dead rubber and will be going flat out to match them upfront to provide a good platform for us.

“The team we have selected this weekend has been chosen for very specific reasons.

“It has not been a case of resting people, it has been a case of picking combinations that we want to see with a view to our November schedule in the league. In addition it is an opportunity to give first team rugby to some people who need a run out, so that they have a fair opportunity to put their case forward for selection.”

One such player is England rugby league international Danny Williams, with Bates saying of the former Leeds Rhino: “Unfortunately when Danny played against Newport he picked up a knock to his ankle very early in the game, so he was struggling a bit during that match and could not really give a full account of himself in difficult circumstances.

“He is someone who has been training very well, he looks really sharp now, and the only way we’re going to find out whether he has a future in rugby union is if we play him and give him the chance to put his case forward.

“I don’t think he weakens the team, and looking ahead to the November schedule of league matches he now has the chance to impress us and put his hat in the ring for selection during that time. He has settled in really well, has a lot of good elements to his game and I’m loo

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