By Ali Stokes
Newcastle Falcons have confirmed the signing of Scottish international openside flanker John Hardie, with immediate effect.
The Falcons state that Hardie, formerly of Pro14 side Edinburgh and Super Rugby outfit the Highlanders, has been signed as injury cover for sidelines club captain Will Welch, who is expected to be out for "the next couple of months" with an ankle injury sustained during their Premiership fixture against Sale Sharks earlier this month.
The 16-times-capped international, Hardie, earned 22 Pro14 and seven European appearances for Edinburgh, earning the last of his Test caps against Fiji in June last year.
In October 2017, Scottish Rugby and Edinburgh suspended Hardie from selection for both club or country, but gave no details on why the 29-year-old is not being considered. The New Zealand-born flanker has since spent the summer training with French club Clermont.
Commenting on his latest piece of recruitment news, Falcons Director of Rugby Dean Richards said: "John is a proven performer at a very high level, and it's great to be able to call upon all of his experience and ability.
"It's no secret that injuries and international call-ups have depleted our back-row stocks, and it's great that we are able to welcome John to the club."
Hardie himself commented: "It's fantastic to be here in Newcastle and to have this opportunity.
"I've been watching their recent games and it seems to be a positive environment, so I'm just looking forward to getting started.
"It's a fresh start for me, I'm determined to get back on the rugby field and to begin this new chapter."