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Page last updated at 14:35 GMT, Friday, 1 May 2009 15:35 UK

Gopperth to make Falcons switch

Jimmy Gopperth
Gopperth is set to join up with Falcons in November

Newcastle have agreed a three-year deal for Blues fly-half Jimmy Gopperth when his contract in New Zealand comes to an end in November.

Falcons director of rugby Steve Bates expects the 25-year-old Junior All Black to be a hit in the Premiership.

"Jimmy is an outstanding talent who has excelled at Super 14 level, and has the ability to really steer this team forward," said Bates.

"There is quality about everything he does, he is at just the right age."

With stand-in fly-half Tom May already confirmed to move to France, and Jonny Wilkinson's future still uncertain, Bates is delighted to have captured such an established option at half-back.

"Jimmy is a fantastic goal kicker who links well, scores tries and leads the back line in a very expert manner with his tactical kicking," he said.

"The reports from guys like Carl Hayman and Tane Tu'ipulotu, who has played a lot of rugby with Jimmy at the Hurricanes, Wellington and with the Junior All Blacks, have all been excellent and we are excited about the prospect of having him on board.

606: DEBATE

"At this stage his contract with us starts in November after the Air New Zealand Cup, but we are pushing hard to secure an early release from that so he can join us for pre-season in July."

Falcons have also signed Harlequins and England Sevens winger Charlie Amesbury.

Amesbury, 23, has made nine starts for Quins this season and Bates has high hopes for the England Sevens international.

"Charlie is an exciting young player who is very ambitious," said Bates.

"He is a very talented runner with plenty of pace who has competed with current internationals for a starting spot in the Harlequins side."



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