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Five debutants in Saints’ matchday 23 for Cup clash at Saracens

Director of Rugby Chris Boyd has handed Northampton Saints debuts to Joel Matavesi and Luke Frost for this weekend’s Premiership Rugby Cup trip to Saracens.

The men in Black, Green and Gold travel to StoneX Stadium on Saturday (kick-off: 3pm) looking for their first win of this year’s competition having gone down narrowly to both London Irish and Harlequins in their opening Pool C fixtures.

Matavesi starts at centre for his first Northampton appearance having joined the Club on a short-term contract, while Bedford Blues loanee Luke Frost is given the nod at lock – with another three potential debutants on the bench for Saints.

Piers Francis skippers the visitors for the first time and starts at outside centre alongside Matavesi, with Boyd opting for a back-three of Ahsee Tuala, Josh Gillespie and fullback Tommy Freeman – who returns to the side after recovering from injury sustained on international duty.

James Grayson continues in the No.10 jersey for Saints after last weekend’s Gallagher Premiership win over Wasps, while Tom James starts in Black, Green and Gold for the first time since November at scrum-half.

In the front row, props Nick Auterac and Karl Garside pack down either side of hooker James Fish, with Alex Moon making his return from injury in the engine room alongside Frost.

Geordie Irvine and Ollie Newman are selected for their first appearances since the last round of the Premiership Rugby Cup at No.8 and openside flanker respectively, while JJ Tonks completes the back-row line-up.

Amongst the replacements, Senior Academy tighthead Ed Prowse will be hoping to make his Northampton debut after catching the eye on loan at Bedford so far this season, as will Under-18s players George Patten and Frankie Sleightholme (both Northampton School for Boys and Northampton Old Scouts) – who have been rewarded for their efforts in Saints’ run to the Academy League Final with a place in the matchday 23.

SARACENS vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Premiership Rugby Cup, Pool C, Round 3
Saturday 19 March 2022
StoneX Stadium
Kick-off: 3pm

15 Tommy Freeman
14 Josh Gillespie
13 Piers Francis (c)
12 Joel Matavesi
11 Ahsee Tuala
10 James Grayson
9 Tom James

1 Nick Auterac
2 James Fish
3 Karl Garside
4 Alex Moon
5 Luke Frost
6 JJ Tonks
7 Ollie Newman
8 Geordie Irvine

Replacements:
16 Mike Haywood
17 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi
18 Ed Prowse
19 Alex Coles
20 George Patten
21 Connor Tupai
22 George Hendy
23 Frankie Sleightholme

Not considered for selection:
Matthew Arden, Emeka Atuanya, Jake Garside, Teimana Harrison, Oisín Heffernan, Lewis Ludlam, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Ehren Painter, Matt Proctor, Ollie Sleightholme, Kayde Sylvester, Karl Wilkins and Tom Wood.

International duty:
Dan Biggar (Wal), George Furbank (Eng), Ethan Grayson (Eng U20), Courtney Lawes (Eng), Tom Litchfield (Eng U20), Tom Lockett (Eng U20)

Referee: Mike Hudson
Assistant referees: Charlie Gayther and Darryl Chapman
No.4: Bill Burton

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