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Saints make one change to starting XV for trip to Munster

Director of rugby Phil Dowson makes just one change to his Northampton Saints side for their final Investec Champions Cup Pool clash against Munster Rugby on Saturday (20 January, kick-off: 5.30pm). 

No.8 Juarno Augustus is the singular edit to the starting line-up that downed Aviron Bayonnais 61-14 at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens last week, as Saints secured their place in the competition’s knock-out rounds with a Pool tie to spare. 

And though Northampton sit at the top of Pool 3 with their home Round of 16 clash already secured, Dowson’s side face a tough challenge at Thomond Park – a stadium Saints have never left victorious in their four visits to date – with a win required to guarantee top spot in the Pool.

Saints’ contingent of seven players named in England’s training squad earlier this week – Alex Coles, Fraser Dingwall, Tommy Freeman, George Furbank, Alex Mitchell, Tom Pearson and Fin Smith – all start in Limerick, with Furbank again leading the side from fullback.

Centre Dingwall is joined by Scotland international Rory Hutchinson – who was named in Gregor Townsend’s squad on Tuesday – in Northampton’s midfield, while Freeman is partnered on the wing by Ollie Sleightholme for the second week running. 

England duo Smith and Mitchell will look to pull the strings for Saints from the half-back berths for the eighth time together this term. 

Saints’ front row remains unchanged; with Alex Waller, Curtis Langdon and Trevor Davison retaining their positions there. Temo Mayanavanua joins England international Coles in the engine room, while Courtney Lawes takes his spot alongside back rowers Pearson and Augustus to complete the starting XV. 

Meanwhile Northampton take plenty of experience to Thomond Park amongst the replacements – with the likes of Robbie Smith, Alex Moon, Sam Graham, Burger Odendaal and Tom James all primed to enter the action from the bench for the men in Black, Green and Gold.

Investec Champions Cup, Round 4
Saturday 20 January, 2024
Thomond Park
Kick-off: 5.30pm

15 George Furbank (c)
14 Tommy Freeman 
13 Fraser Dingwall 
12 Rory Hutchinson 
11 Ollie Sleightholme 
10 Fin Smith 
9 Alex Mitchell 

1 Alex Waller
2 Curtis Langdon
3 Trevor Davison
4 Temo Mayanavanua 
5 Alex Coles 
6 Courtney Lawes 
7 Tom Pearson
8 Juarno Augustus 

16 Robbie Smith 
17 Emmanuel Iyogun 
18 Elliot Millar Mills 
19 Alex Moon 
20 Sam Graham 
21 Tom James 
22 Burger Odendaal 
23 Charlie Savala 

Not available for selection:
George Hendy, Lewis Ludlam, Sam Matavesi, James Ramm and Tom Seabrook.

Simon Zebo, Calvin Nash, Antoine Frisch, Alex Nankivell, Shane Daly, Jack Crowley, Craig Casey; Jeremy Loughman, Niall Scannell, Oli Jager, Tom Ahern, Tadhg Beirne (c), Peter O’Mahony, John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes
Replacements: Eoghan Clarke, Josh Wycherley, John Ryan, Brian Gleeson, Alex Kendellen, Conor Murray, Joey Carbery, Seán O’Brien

Referee: Tual Trainini (FRA)
Assistant referees: Ludovic Cayre (FRA) and Flavien Hourquet (FRA)
No.4: Kevin Coffey (IRE)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (FRA)

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