Taqele Naiyaravoro will pull on a Black, Green and Gold jersey for the very first time on Saturday as Northampton Saints welcome Saracens to Franklin’s Gardens in the Gallagher Premiership (kick-off: 3pm).
Director of rugby Chris Boyd has made just three changes to the matchday 23 that saw off Harlequins 25-18 last Friday evening to notch up their first win of the new league season.
Naiyaravoro comes into the first-team squad to make his Club debut on the wing after arriving from the Sydney-based Waratahs two weeks ago, and joins Ahsee Tuala and Tom Collins – Northampton’s top two metre makers so far this season – in the back three.
Centres Luther Burrell and Piers Francis continue in the midfield, while there is also a familiar combination in the half-backs as Dan Biggar – who notched up 17 points last time out – and Cobus Reinach are selected together again.
England skipper Dylan Hartley comes into the starting XV for the first time this term after scoring the decisive try against Harlequins, and will co-captain the side alongside front-row partner Alex Waller.
But there is another change in Saints’ front row as England Under-20 international Ehren Painter is handed his first ever Northampton start at tighthead prop, with Ben Franks instead switching to the bench.
Last weekend’s man-of-the-match David Ribbans and Courtney Lawes make up Northampton’s engine room, while James Haskell, Heinrich Brüssow and Teimana Harrison complete the line-up in the back row.
And Mikey Haywood returns to the matchday squad for the first time this season to take his place amongst the replacements, and he will hope to make an impact in the second half alongside the likes of Api Ratuniyarawa, Jamie Gibson, Andy Symons and Harry Mallinder.
“We were thrilled to get off the mark in the Gallagher Premiership last weekend, but there’s still been plenty for us to work on this week and the guys have trained hard,” said Boyd.
“Saracens obviously represent a challenge for us, but we’ve made good progress over the past couple of weeks so we’re looking to continue that and produce another performance here at Franklin’s Gardens that our supporters will be proud of.”
Tickets for Northampton Saints v Saracens on Saturday afternoon, kick-off 3pm, are still available from £32 adults and £14 juniors. Please CLICK HERE to book now.
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS v SARACENS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round Three
Saturday 15 September 2018
15 Ahsee Tuala
14 Taqele Naiyaravoro
13 Luther Burrell
12 Piers Francis
11 Tom Collins
10 Dan Biggar
9 Cobus Reinach
1 Alex Waller (co-captain)
2 Dylan Hartley (co-captain)
3 Ehren Painter
4 David Ribbans
5 Courtney Lawes
6 James Haskell
7 Heinrich Brüssow
8 Teimana Harrison
16 Mike Haywood
17 Francois Van Wyk
18 Ben Franks
19 Api Ratuniyarawa
20 Jamie Gibson
21 Alex Mitchell
22 Andrew Symons
23 Harry Mallinder
Not available for selection:
Dom Barrow (hamstring), Alex Coles (knee), James Craig (concussion), Paul Hill (shoulder), Rory Hutchinson (knee), Reece Marshall (foot), Toby Trinder (foot), Tom Wood (groin), and Ken Pisi (shoulder).