RIKKI Sheriffe is hoping another strong European showing will help kick-start Newcastle Falcons' domestic campaign.

Falcons began their European Challenge Cup programme with a 27-19 win over Lyon last weekend, and will look to make it two wins out of two when they take on Petrarca Padova in Italy this afternoon.

Padova are the reigning Italian champions, but with Newcastle having done the double over today's opponents last season, the visitors will start as strong favourites in the Stadio Plebiscito.

They remain rooted to the foot of the Aviva Premiership table after winning just one of their opening eight matches, but Sheriffe is hoping a European feel-good factor will spill over into their next domestic fixture at Harlequins a week tomorrow.

"We have gone with a strong team for the European games," said the Falcons winger. "People are not seeing it as a weak selection even when there are changes from the Premiership side, because the guys coming in are putting their hands up and taking their opportunities.

"You have to start the winning run somewhere. It does not matter which competition it is in, because it all just generates momentum.

"When you are losing it makes you feel down, so a win in whatever tournament is going to be a boost to the general psyche of the club."

Sheriffe's place in the Falcons side is under threat following the recent arrival of Tongan World Cup winner Suka Hufanga.

Ryan Shortland is also available, having returned from injury last weekend, and while Luke Fielden remains sidelined, Alan Tait suddenly finds himself with options out wide.

"I thrive on competition and I am sure the rest of the lads do as well," said Sheriffe. "Ryan Shortland had a great game in coming back from injury last weekend, and it is fantastic we have more and more people going for the starting shirts.

"As a player, when there are signings in your position you can either spit your dummy out and start worrying about what the coaches think of you or you can get on with it and fight for your place.

"Everybody has to earn their stripes. That goes for me, just as much as it does for an international player coming in to join us.

"It is all good, and I am sure Suka will be a great addition. He has played in a Rugby World Cup in recent months and that is the pinnacle of any player's career."