JOHNNY WILLIAMS will make a welcome return to rugby this afternoon when he lines up for a Newcastle Falcons XV against Watsonians in Melrose, having missed the first four months of the season with testicular cancer.

The 23-year-old underwent chemotherapy over the summer and has been working hard over the past few months to return to match action, with director of rugby Dean Richards expressing his delight at the centre’s progress.

“Johnny has been through a tough time and shown enormous strength of character to come back as quickly as he has done,” said Richards. “First and foremost, we are just glad for him as a person that he is healthy and is overcoming the challenge he has been faced with. He is at his happiest when he is on a rugby field, so for him to be able to get out there again must be a really good feeling.

“From the club’s point of view, it’s obviously great to have another outstanding player fit and available for selection, but more than anything we’re just glad that a degree of normality is returning to Johnny’s life after what has clearly been a very difficult time.”

Elsewhere in the side, Dominic Waldouck skippers a Falcons XV who have won all four of their friendly matches against the Scottish Super6 sides this season, defeating Heriots home and away as well as overcoming Stirling County and Southern Knights.

Charlie Maddison packs down at hooker having scored a first-half hat-trick in front of 5,484 supporters on December 28 when the Falcons XV beat Southern Knights 57-10, while United States international Greg Peterson earns a start in the second row.