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Grayson captains Saints for final Pool stage Cup fixture

James Grayson will lead out Northampton Saints on Wednesday evening at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens for the first time in his career, as the men in Black, Green and Gold take on Newcastle Falcons in the Premiership Rugby Cup.

The clash sees the return of wing Taqele Naiyaravoro from long-term injury, with Director of Rugby Chris Boyd also handing a Club debut to Duane RatuVilai Willemsen in the back row.

While it is still mathematically possible for Saints to progress from Pool C to the knockout stages of the competition following a bonus-point win at Saracens last time out, victory is essential on Wednesday and several results elsewhere must fall their way – so the young Saints will be fully focused on delivering an impressive performance for an expectant home crowd.

Grayson skippers the hosts from fly-half and lines up outside scrum-half Connor Tupai, with Joel Matavesi and Tom Litchfield selected in Northampton’s midfield.

Following a scintillating cameo against Saracens (in which he scored two tries and made 226 metres in just 25 minutes on the field) George Hendy starts at fullback, with Naiyaravoro – playing for the first time since being injured in preseason – and Josh Gillespie completing the back three.

Up front, tighthead prop Ed Prowse earns his first ever start for Saints, with loosehead Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi named in the starting XV for the first time this season.

James Fish completes the front row at hooker, while Bedford loanee Luke Frost and England Under-20s international Tom Lockett pack down together in Northampton’s engine room.

Willemsen is the headline inclusion in the back row, with flanker JJ Tonks and No.8 Geordie Irvine keeping their places in the side from Saints’ last Cup outing.

Meanwhile, Senior Academy players Leroy O'Neil, Callum Burns, and Jake Garside are set for their first senior appearances if they come off the bench, and Saints Under-18s duo George Patten and Frankie Sleightholme (both Northampton School for Boys and Northampton Old Scouts) are once again named amongst the replacements.

Premiership Rugby Cup, Round 4
Wednesday 30 March 2022
cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 7.45pm

15 George Hendy
14 Josh Gillespie
13 Tom Litchfield
12 Joel Matavesi
11 Taqele Naiyaravoro
10 James Grayson (c)
9 Connor Tupai

1 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi
2 James Fish
3 Ed Prowse
4 Luke Frost
5 Tom Lockett
6 Duane RatuVilai Willemsen
7 JJ Tonks
8 Geordie Irvine

16 Reece Marshall
17 Leroy O'Neil
18 Karl Garside
19 Callum Burns
20 George Patten
21 Jake Garside
22 Ethan Grayson
23 Frankie Sleightholme

Not considered for selection:
Matthew Arden, Emeka Atuanya, Piers Francis, Teimana Harrison, Oisín Heffernan, Emmanuel Iyogun, Ollie Newman, Ehren Painter, Courtnall Skosan, Ollie Sleightholme, Kayde Sylvester, and Tom Wood.

Referee: Jack Makepeace
Assistant referees: Nick Wood and Ian Bibey
No.4: Bill Burton

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