Centre Corne Uys returns to the Newcastle line-up for Sunday's LV= Cup clash with Sale Sharks at Kingston Park.
Corne Uys returns to the Newcastle line-up for Sunday's LV= Cup clash with Sale Sharks at Kingston Park.
The South African starts at outside centre as the Tyneside outfit aim to get off to the perfect start under new director of rugby Gary Gold.
Uys, who has been out of action with a groin injury sustained during the Falcons' Boxing Day outing at Sale, will partner James Fitzpatrick at the heart of the North East backline.
The northeasterners' make five further changes with Tongan international winger Suka Hufanga making a welcome return to action.
In the pack Grant Shiells starts at tight-head prop while Rob Vickers replaces Michael Mayhew at hooker.
Adriaan Fondse gets the nod in the engine room and features for the first time since the Falcons' last Aviva Premiership outing at home to Exeter Chiefs.
Will Welch rounds off the changes with the home-grown academy product occupying the openside flanker berth.
Falcons fans will be delighted to see Jonny Golding amongst the replacements after been sidelined all season with an Achilles injury.
Meanwhile Samoan international Taiasina Tu'ifua, Will Chudley and Tom Bedford have a place on the bench.
Gold and new defence coach Mike Ford made the trip to Lyon last week and were keen observers at the Matmut Stadium.
“Sale will be a good test for the boys as we continue our preparations for the return of the Aviva Premiership,” said Gold, the former assistant coach of South Africa.
“It is important that we put in a good performance and get the victory as winning breeds confidence. You look at a number of key performance indicators and that gives you an idea of where the team are at in terms of those micro-details.
“You want to improve all of them, but if you focus on the most important ones straightaway then theory is that the scoreboard will look after itself.”
Meanwhile, making his Sale debut will be flanker Hendre Fourie who joined Sharks from Leeds last summer.
“We're not expecting anything easy at Kingston Park. Falcons will all be wanting to impress their new coach Gary Gold and will probably have a very strong squad,” said Sharks coach Tony Hanks.
“Those guys are playing for their careers and contracts regardless of the fact it's an LV= Cup game. Every time they go out they will be desperate to impress their new coach and that will be the case on Sunday.
“Kingston Park is a difficult place to go to. You never know what the atmosphere and the conditions there will be like so it will be tough.”
Newcastle: 15 Jimmy Gopperth (c), 14 Ryan Shortland, 13 Corne Uys, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Suka Hufanga, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Chris Pilgrim, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch, 6 Ally Hogg,5 Adriaan Fondse, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 James Hall, 2 Rob Vickers, 1 Grant Shiells.
Replacements: 16 Michael Mayhew, 17 Jonny Golding, 18 Ashley Wells, 19 Richard Boyle, 20 Taiasina Tu'ifua, 21 Richard Mayhew, 22 Will Chudley, 23 Tom Bedford.
Sale: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Nick MacLeod, 11 Charlie Amesbury, 10 Rob Miller, 9 Dwayne Peel (c), 8 Mark Easter, 7 Hendre Fourie, 6 Onasa'I Auva'a, 5 Wame Lewaravu, 4 Andrei Ostrikov, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Joe Ward, 1 Lee Imiolek.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Tony Buckley, 19 Richie Vernon, 20 David Seymour, 21 Scott Mathie, 22 Mark Jennings, 23 Luther Burrell.
Date: Sunday, January 29
Venue: Edgeley Park
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)