Fletcher backing British talent

Newcastle boss John Fletcher has backed the Falcons' home-grown policy that will see him field 14 Englishmen in Sunday's Guinness Premiership clash against Wasps. [more]

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Newcastle boss John Fletcher has backed the Falcons’ home-grown policy that will see him field 14 Englishmen in Sunday’s Guinness Premiership clash against Wasps.

Only four of that contingent are not products of the Newcastle Academy.

Although Falcons have Australian World Cup-winner Matt Burke and revered New Zealand prop Carl Hayman currently on their books, nurturing local talent remains a priority.

Fletcher said: "We are a regional side representing the north-east and Cumbria, and we want to give opportunities to good regional players.

"I am a massive believer in the fact that domestic competitions have a responsibility to produce players for the national team.

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"The England team is responsible for the whole game in this country in a sense, because they generate a huge amount of funding and enthusiasm at all levels.

"It is vitally important, and we as clubs have a duty to support that, which we take very seriously.

"It’s not easy. Players are taken away from us at crucial times during our own season, but we will stick with a policy that produces mainly players from this region with a sprinkling of world-class overseas stars like Matt Burke and Carl Hayman.

"The easiest thing to do would be to go and buy a team full of South Africans or Islanders who can play 22 Premiership games a season.

"That would be a decent team, but what benefit would there be to English rugby or north-east rugby by doing that?

"Don’t underestimate how important the national team is to the club game, and vice-versa. We just have to play bat and ball with each other."

Two of Newcastle’s shining England lights – Jonny Wilkinson and Toby Flood – miss the trip to Adams Park because of ankle injuries, although they could return for next weekend’s EDF Energy Cup appointment with the same opponents.

Wasps boss Ian McGeechan has named England World Cup trio Lawrence Dallaglio, Simon Shaw and Josh Lewsey on the bench, while wing Tom Voyce makes his 150th Premiership appearance in a side skippered by scrum-half Eoin Reddan.

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