Piutau returns for Bristol

A positive coronavirus result for a Bears forward has resulted in Pat Lam being forced to make seven changes to the team which won at Harlequins on Boxing Day

Last Updated: 31/12/20 2:12pm

Charles Piutau returns for the Bears
Charles Piutau returns for the Bears

Charles Piutau is set for his return to first-team action when Bristol Bears kick off 2021 at home to high-flying Newcastle Falcons on Friday.

The All Black is one of seven changes to Pat Lam’s men ahead of the Gallagher Premiership encounter at Ashton Gate (3pm).

Earlier this week, Bears received their first positive result for a player since testing began in July. Despite all other players in the squad receiving negative results, the club followed Covid-19 competition protocols to isolate all front row players who featured in the Matchday squad versus Harlequins.

As a result, Peter McCabe, George Kloska and Jake Armstrong form a new-look front row, with all three set for their first Premiership starts.

Meanwhile, Ed Holmes, Ben Earl, Dan Thomas, Siale Piutau and Max Malins are all provided rest weeks.

Andy Uren is recalled to the backline, while Joe Joyce and Jake Heenan are also named in the starting line-up.

Sinckler is on the bench for Bristol
Sinckler is on the bench for Bristol

Bristol are also boosted by the return of Luke Morahan to the replacements, while Academy scholar hooker Aaron Thompson and Integrated Academy prop Andrew Turner are also named in the 23-man squad and could make competitive debuts.

Kyle Sinckler returned to camp early from mandated leave for a Covid test and took part in Thursday’s captains run to be listed among the replacements.

Argentina centre Matias Orlando will make his Falcons debut on Friday while Philip Van Der Walt is also set for a first outing at number eight. Sam Stuart starts at scrum-half, with Toby Flood moving to fly-half.

Bristol: 15 Charles Piutau; 14 Siva Naulago, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 Piers O’Conor, 11 Ioan Lloyd; 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Andy Uren; 1 Peter McCabe, 2 George Kloska, 3 Jake Armstrong, 4 Dave Attwood, 5 Joe Joyce, 6 Steven Luatua (c), 7 Jake Heenan, 8 Nathan Hughes

Replacements: 16 Aaron Thompson, 17 Andrew Turner, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 John Hawkins, 20 Fitz Harding, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Alapati Leiua, 23 Luke Morahan

Newcastle: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Matias Orlando, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sam Stuart, 1 Trevor Davison, 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Marco Fuser, 6 Sean Robinson, 7 Mark Wilson (c), 8 Philip van der Walt

Replacements: 16 Charlie Maddison, 17 Kyle Cooper, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Connor Collett, 20 Josh Basham, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Brett Connon, 23 Gareth Owen

Source : Sky Sports