Director of Rugby Phil Dowson has made seven changes to his Northampton Saints side to take on Leicester Tigers on Saturday, with four internationals in Lewis Ludlam, Courtney Lawes, Dan Biggar and Tommy Freeman all returning to the starting line-up.
The men in Black, Green and Gold take on their local rivals in the first East Midlands Derby of the 2022/23 season – and the 250th ever played in a milestone clash at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.
Saints lost all three meetings between the sides last term, including an evenly-contested Gallagher Premiership semi-final, but will be hoping to replicate the sort of form which has seen Northampton win their last five league matches on home soil (the Club’s longest winning run at the Gardens since 2015).
Club captain Lewis Ludlam returns for the first time this season for Saints in the back row and is joined by England captain Courtney Lawes, with the pair having completed their rest period following the summer’s international tour to Australia.
No.8 Juarno Augustus – who has driven through more metres in contact than any other Premiership player in the league’s opening two rounds – completes the back row, while Alex Coles moves up into the engine room to partner Australian lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.
There are changes to Northampton’s front row too; Sam Matavesi continues at hooker but props Emmanuel Iyogun and Alfie Petch both earn their first starts of the season to pack down either side of the Fiji international.
Wales skipper Biggar (who was due to return in last weekend’s victory over London Irish before illness ruled him out of the clash) pulls on the No.10 jersey for the hosts, with the Premiership’s player-of-the-round Alex Mitchell continuing at scrum-half.
Fraser Dingwall returns from injury to take his place in the starting line-up, prompting a reshuffle in Saints’ backline as Matt Proctor moves to the wing and Rory Hutchinson continues at inside centre.
England internationals George Furbank and Tommy Freeman round off the back three for Northampton for the crucial clash, with the likes of Tom James, Paul Hill, Angus Scott-Young and Tom Collins all primed to make an impact off the bench.
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs LEICESTER TIGERS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 3
Saturday 24 September 2022
cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens
15 George Furbank
14 Tommy Freeman
13 Fraser Dingwall
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Matt Proctor
10 Dan Biggar
9 Alex Mitchell
1 Emmanuel Iyogun
2 Sam Matavesi
3 Alfie Petch
4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto
5 Alex Coles
6 Courtney Lawes
7 Lewis Ludlam (c)
8 Juarno Augustus
16 Mike Haywood
17 Ethan Waller
18 Paul Hill
19 Alex Moon
20 Angus Scott-Young
21 Tom James
22 James Grayson
23 Tom Collins
Not considered for selection:
Matthew Arden, Callum Burns, James Fish, Joseph Gaffan, Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, Alex Waller and Karl Wilkins.
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant referees: Dan Jones and Jamie Leahy
No.4: Dean Richards
TMO: Stuart Terheege
* All ticket prices are subject to a £1.50 booking fee. Please note, ticket prices rise by £3 per ticket if purchased on matchday.