Scottish pair set to join Andrew

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Rob Andrew, the Newcastle technical director, yesterday confirmed that two Scottish internationals, the scrum-half Gary Armstrong and the lock Doddie Weir, have signed registration forms. The pair joined the England wing Tony Underwood, whose return to the North-east was leaked by Leicester yesterday, as Newcastle's latest recruits.

"We are still looking at the personal situation regarding jobs etc for Gary and Doddie," Andrew said, "but I am confident they will be playing for us by the end of the season. "It shows the quality we are aiming to bring to Newcastle. We have now signed something like eight internationals, which shows that we mean business."

"We will be a force," said Sir John Hall, whose side are bottom of the Second Division. "I think realistically we are going to stay up this season. Then - like Newcastle United - next season we will go for it. We are in the game long-term.

"I met some of the First Division clubs and some were aggrieved at what we were trying to do with a chequebook. But for years they have come to this region and taken players away when we could not afford to give them jobs, a car or money. Now the boot is on the other foot."

Underwood denied he was regressing. "I have not written off my international future," he said. "I still want to play for England." The former stockbroker will also have a role in youth development.

Armstrong, now at Jed-Forest, and Weir, who is at Melrose, will only be available for the final four games if they make their signings permanent. Armstrong, who hopes to win back his Scottish place after a serious knee injury, said: "Doddie and I have been impressed, but we have only signed registration forms so far. We have got to sit down and negotiate. I have to think about my future and that of my young family."