sport

Falcons sign Biarritz forward

Newcastle have signed Italy lock Josh Furno from Biarritz.

Australia-born Furno, who has won 18 caps for the Azzurri, becomes Falcons coach Dean Richards' ninth signing for next season.

The 6ft 7in second row played in all five of Italy's Six Nations matches this year, scoring a try against Scotland.

He began his career in his adopted homeland with Viadana and Aironi before moving to France to play for Narbonne and then Biarritz.

He becomes the second Italian second row to play for Newcastle following Carlo del Favo, who was forced to retire this year because of injury.

"I am delighted to be joining Newcastle Falcons," Furno told the Falcons website. "I am really looking forward to meeting all the boys and getting down to work.

Excited

"Having competed against the very best in the Top 14 and the RaboDirect Pro12, I am now excited to be given the opportunity to challenge myself in the Aviva Premiership.

"I will be working hard to ensure that I play my part in what promises to be an exciting future for the club.

"I spoke with Carlo del Favo and (Samoan back) Sinoti Sinoti and they only had good things to say about the Falcons and life in Newcastle. I then spoke with Dean and I was thoroughly impressed with his vision for the club going forward."

Newcastle director of rugby Richards added: "Josh is a fantastic signing, who is a great all-rounder when it comes to the set-piece, ball carrying and his ability in defence.

"He has international experience from his time in the Italian set-up and has performed at the highest level in domestic competition, both of which will be vital for us in the Aviva Premiership."