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Debuts for Proctor and Franks as World Cup stars return for Saints

Matt Proctor and Owen Franks could both make their Northampton Saints debuts off the bench on Sunday, with Chris Boyd calling on his international reinforcements for this weekend’s Heineken Champions Cup opener.

The Kiwi director of rugby has made six changes to the Saints side that lost away at Bath Rugby last weekend, with Dan Biggar, Cobus Reinach, Piers Francis, Courtney Lawes, and Lewis Ludlam all returning at Franklin’s Gardens from Rugby World Cup duty.

Alex Waller and Teimana Harrison will lead Northampton on Sunday (kick-off 1pm), as the men in Black, Green and Gold return to Europe’s top flight and look to recreate their run to glory on the 20th anniversary of the Club’s title.

Boyd makes three changes to the pack with Waller recovering from a knock to join Mikey Haywood and Ehren Painter in the front row, while Lawes is unleashed in the engine room alongside the in-form David Ribbans.

Ludlam plays at openside flanker with Harrison in the No.8 jersey and Tom Wood rounding off the back row.

Biggar and World Cup winner Reinach will look to reignite the half-back partnership that steered Saints into the Gallagher Premiership semi-finals last season, while the only other change to Northampton’s back line sees Piers Francis come into the midfield to join Scotland international Rory Hutchinson.

The hosts’ back three of Tom Collins, Taqele Naiyaravoro and fullback George Furbank remains unchanged, but amongst the replacements are All Blacks Proctor and Franks – who will both pull on the Black, Green and Gold jersey for the first time and are set to make their Club debuts if they enter the action.

Heineken Champions Cup, Round One
Sunday 17 November 2019
Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 1pm

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

1 Alex Waller (co-capt)
2 Mike Haywood
3 Ehren Painter
4 David Ribbans
5 Courtney Lawes
6 Tom Wood
7 Lewis Ludlam
8 Teimana Harrison (co-capt)

16 James Fish
17 Francois van Wyk
18 Owen Franks
19 Api Ratuniyarawa
20 Jamie Gibson
21 James Mitchell
22 Matt Proctor
23 Ahsee Tuala

Referee: Frank Murphy (IRE)
Assistant referees: George Clancy (IRE) & Robert O'Sullivan (IRE)
TMO: Olly Hodges (IRE)

Not available for selection:
Harry Mallinder (knee), Alex Mitchell (knee), Reece Marshall (hamstring), Rueben Bird-Tulloch (hand), Henry Taylor (thumb), and Ben Franks (elbow).

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