MARK LAYCOCK is confident Newcastle Falcons will challenge for the Premiership Rugby Sevens title on Friday despite the loss of three players to the club’s XV-man squad.

Sean Brown, Simon Hammersley and Lee Smith have all been withdrawn from Falcons’ sevens squad in order to travel to France ahead of tomorrow’s senior pre-season friendly against Bayonne.

Scott Lawson, Glen Young and James Christie have been added to the squad that won the regional final of the Premiership Sevens at The Northern Echo Arena last weekend, but their experience of top-class sevens rugby is limited.

Nevertheless, with Darlington-born Tom Catterick continuing to captain the side, and the likes of Andy Davies, Ben Morris, Brian Tuilagi and Dan Temm all still available, Laycock is confident Newcastle will give a good account of themselves when they kick off finals day with a quarter-final against Newport Gwent Dragons at Twickenham Stoop.

“We’re looking forward to Friday and giving things a go to see where we can finish in the tournament,” said Laycock. “We have the core of the team who did so well in Darlington, with some quality additions replacing the three guys who will be over in Bayonne.

“It’s great news for Sean, Simon and Lee because it is what this is about, helping players progress with their rugby.

“We have been working with the replacements already with the possibility of call-ups in mind, so hopefully it should not disrupt things too much.”

Newcastle Falcons Sevens squad: Catterick (capt), Christie, Davies, Harris, Lawson, Morris, Robinson, Temm, Tuilagi, Willis, Wilson, Young.