NEWCASTLE Falcons centre Luke Eves is poised to return to former club Bristol for the remainder of the season, while uncertainty over head coach Alan Tait’s future could also come to a head today.
Eves has made 16 appearances this term, but The Journal can reveal that the 22-year-old will return to his native West Country after slipping down the Kingston Park pecking order following last week’s signing of Tom Bedford.
The decision to send Eves on loan was taken by Tait although major question marks remain over whether or not the Scot will still be in charge for Sunday’s visit of Italian champions Petrarca Padova.
The head coach had said after last weekend’s loss to Exeter that he would consider his position, and The Journal understands an announcement over his future could come as early as this afternoon.
Eves will join fellow Falcons loan-man Glen Townson at the Memorial Stadium, although Newcastle’s decision to bolster the Championship leaders seems an extraordinary one given their own current position at the bottom of the Aviva Premiership.
Only Bristol and fifth-placed Leeds Carnegie are expected to meet the strict criteria for entry into English rugby’s top flight, as revealed by The Journal earlier this week. Should the Falcons end the campaign at the bottom of the league, their only chance of Premiership survival hinges on neither Bristol nor Leeds winning the two-leg Championship play-off final in late May.
To actively support the West Country side’s promotion push with the addition of Eves is therefore a perplexing move, especially given Newcastle’s back-line injury crisis which currently sees Jamie Helleur, Corne Uys, Alex Tait, Michael Tait and Rikki Sheriffe all sidelined.
Eves is also one of the Falcons’ 36 registered players for Amlin Challenge Cup action going into a fortnight of European games.