Club co-captain Teimana Harrison will notch up his 150th Northampton appearance this weekend as Saints take on Bristol Bears, with director of rugby Chris Boyd making five changes to his starting XV for the Franklin’s Gardens clash.
The men in Black, Green and Gold sit second in the Gallagher Premiership standings despite a frustrating loss to London Irish last time out – their first home defeat in the league this season.
But with the Bears coming to Town this Sunday (kick-off: 3pm), Saints will be hoping to extend a superb recent record against the West Country outfit having won seven of their last eight meetings stretching back to 2008.
Harrison will lead out the hosts on his 150th appearance for the Club, with several players returning for Northampton either from injury or international duty.
Scotland centre Rory Hutchinson will line-up in the centres alongside Matt Proctor, who starts his first match since December after recovering from a concussion.
Half-backs James Grayson and Cobus Reinach are selected together for the second game running, with the No.9 in scintillating form at present having scored six tries in Saints’ last five matches.
Meanwhile Taqele Naiyaravoro keeps his place in the back three but Tom Collins and Harry Mallinder both come in to start, with the latter making his first Premiership appearance for 15 months.
There are two further changes to the pack as lock Alex Moon returns from England duty to partner Alex Coles in the engine room, and club co-captain Alex Waller is named at loosehead prop alongside Mikey Haywood and Owen Franks in the front row.
Northampton’s back row of Harrison, Tom Wood and Mitch Eadie remains unchanged in terms of personnel, but Boyd has shuffled the trio around with Harrison this week wearing No.8.
Amongst the replacements the headline returnee for Saints is scrum-half Alex Mitchell – who is in line for his first appearance in Black, Green and Gold since sustaining a knee injury playing for England against the Barbarians last summer – with Fraser Dingwall also picked on the bench after spending the last few weeks in camp with the Red Rose.
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs BRISTOL BEARS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 10
Sunday 16 February 2020
15 Harry Mallinder
14 Tom Collins
13 Matt Proctor
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Taqele Naiyaravoro
10 James Grayson
9 Cobus Reinach
1 Alex Waller (co-capt)
2 Mikey Haywood
3 Owen Franks
4 Alex Coles
5 Alex Moon
6 Mitch Eadie
7 Tom Wood
8 Teimana Harrison (co-capt)
16 James Fish
17 Ben Franks
18 Paul Hill
19 Lewis Bean
20 Devante Onojaife
21 Alex Mitchell
22 Fraser Dingwall
23 Ahsee Tuala
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: Karl Dickson & Wayne Barnes
TMO: Graham Hughes
Not available for selection:
Jamie Gibson (ankle), David Ribbans (ankle), Api Ratuniyarawa (suspension), Piers Francis (concussion), Dan Biggar (concussion), Ollie Sleightholme (hamstring) and JJ Tonks (neck).