SONATANE TAKULUA is hoping Newcastle Falcons add to Leicester Tigers’ early-season problems when they head to Welford Road for their opening away game of the new Gallagher Premiership season tomorrow afternoon.

Falcons lost their season-opener at home to defending champions Saracens last weekend, but while they performed reasonably impressively at Kingston Park, tomorrow’s opponents, Leicester, were something of a shambles as they crashed to a 40-6 defeat at Exeter.

Their performance resulted in the dismissal of head coach Matt O’Connor just one game into the season, a decision that was heavily criticised by England coach Eddie Jones when he visited Newcastle earlier this week.

O’Connor’s departure means Leicester are looking for their fourth permanent director of rugby or head coach in less than two years, and while the Tigers hierarchy admit they would like some stability, Takulua is hoping to serve up another unsettling afternoon.

“We’re all aware of what has gone on down there, but it doesn’t change anything in terms of how we prepare,” said the Tongan scrum-half. “Leicester away is always a tough game. We won there last season and we believe we can do it again, but we’ll have to work for it.

“With their change in head coach, I’d think they’ll be looking for nine and ten to control things a little bit more, but they’ll definitely come out and throw everything at us. We’ll just prepare as normal and stick to our system, so it doesn’t really change from our side.

“The atmosphere down there is always big, we love playing in Leicester and these big games are why we play. We won there last season, and I don’t see why we can’t do the same thing again.”

Falcons went down 32-21 last weekend, but Dean Richards’ side remained competitive throughout and displayed sufficient positive signs to suggest they are capable of emulating last season’s fourth-placed finish.

“We knew Saracens were going to come out firing, but we felt we did the same and it was frustrating not to come away with anything,” said Takulua, who kicked the winning conversion as Falcons claimed a 25-23 win at Leicester in April, their first success at Welford Road for 20 years.

“We’re going to Leicester this weekend looking to play the same kind of way, and we believe if we do that we can get the result we want.

 We did a lot of good work last Sunday, we’ve parked that game now but there are a lot of positives we can take from it. We’ve had a good week and fixed a few things, and everyone now is just looking forward to getting back out there at Leicester.”