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Biggar and Reinach among eight Saints changes for derby day

Director of rugby Chris Boyd has made eight changes to his Northampton Saints side ahead of the East Midlands derby on Friday evening against Leicester Tigers.

Wales’ Grand Slam winner Dan Biggar makes his return to the No.10 jersey for the visit to Welford Road (kick-off 7.45pm, live on BT Sport), with Club top-scorer Cobus Reinach also recalled as Saints try to avenge October’s Gallagher Premiership defeat at Twickenham.

It’s a short turnaround for the men in Black, Green and Gold after lifting the Premiership Rugby Cup on Sunday afternoon, but after claiming their first piece of major silverware in five years Saints will be confident of notching up a second win on Tigers soil in as many seasons.

No.8 Teimana Harrison will lead out Northampton in Leicester, with Jamie Gibson and Heinrich Brüssow coming into the back row either side of the skipper.

Alex Moon and Api Ratuniyarawa continue in the engine room after impressing against Saracens last time out, but loosehead Francois Van Wyk and hooker James Fish are selected in the front row alongside Paul Hill.

There are four more changes to the back-line with Biggar and Reinach returning to the half-back berths for the first time since mid-February.

Rory Hutchinson is selected outside Piers Francis in the midfield with Luther Burrell ruled out through concussion, and in the back three Ahsee Tuala switches to fullback to make room for the fleet-footed Tom Collins – with Taqele Naiyaravoro continuing on the other wing.

Meanwhile Boyd has opted for a mixture of youth and experience amongst the replacements; the likes of Alex Mitchell, Andrew Kellaway and George Furbank will be hoping to make an impact off the bench, while Alex Waller and Tom Wood bring the benefit of 33 East Midlands derby appearances between them.

LEICESTER TIGERS vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 17
Friday 22 March, 2019
Welford Road
Kick-off: 7.45pm

15 Ahsee Tuala
14 Tom Collins
13 Rory Hutchinson
12 Piers Francis
11 Taqele Naiyaravoro
10 Dan Biggar
9 Cobus Reinach

1 Francois Van Wyk
2 James Fish
3 Paul Hill
4 Alex Moon
5 Api Ratuniyarawa
6 Jamie Gibson
7 Heinrich Brüssow
8 Teimana Harrison (c)

Replacements:
16 Reece Marshall
17 Alex Waller
18 Ben Franks
19 James Craig
20 Tom Wood
21 Alex Mitchell
22 Andrew Kellaway
23 George Furbank

Not available for selection:
Andy Symons (knee), Harry Mallinder (knee), Mikey Haywood (knee), Dylan Hartley (knee), Ehren Painter (calf), Courtney Lawes (calf), Paddy Ryan (knee), James Haskell (toe), Fraser Dingwall (ankle), Luther Burrell (concussion) and David Ribbans (ankle).

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