Northampton Saints have made just one change to their starting line-up as Gloucester Rugby visit Franklin’s Gardens this Saturday, kick-off 3.00pm.
It will be the first time Saints run out on home soil in 2018, with the Club relishing the opportunity for a fresh start in what will be new technical coaching assistant Alan Gaffney’s opening match.
The high-flying Cherry & Whites narrowly won the first skirmish between the sides at Kingsholm earlier this season.
But prior to that Saints were undefeated in nine matches against Saturday’s opponents and Gloucester have not achieved a season’s double over Northampton since the 2010/11 season.
After sticking with the same backline for the last two games, Gaffney and interim head coach Alan Dickens have opted for a slight shuffle against the high-flying Cherry & Whites.
Harry Mallinder moves from fullback to fly-half, taking on the No.10 jersey with Piers Francis ruled out of the clash with a head injury sustained at Twickenham last time out.
That means the in-form Ahsee Tuala shifts to fullback from the wing, with Ben Foden staying on the flank and Ken Pisi coming in to complete the back three.
Rob Horne and Luther Burrell stay in the Saints midfield while South African scrum-half Nic Groom keeps his place at inside half.
The pack meanwhile is unchanged from last weekend’s loss, with England captain Dylan Hartley skippering the side once again from hooker and Jamie Gibson staying at openside flanker after an impressive showing against Harlequins.
And prop Kieran Brookes has recovered from a hand injury to take up his place on the bench after a six-week layoff.
“We’ve addressed the players about a number of issues and no punches were pulled,” said Gaffney. “These players have just got to go out and play, as there’s a lot of talent in this squad.
“We’re all in this together; we have to dig in and get more second involvements, get back on our feet and into the game a lot quicker than we are doing.
“Then we’ve got to go out and back ourselves. The players have been very positive this week and there have been few mistakes made in training, so we’re just hoping we can transform that into a performance on Saturday.”
Tickets are still available for the Gloucester match at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday 6th January, starting from £28 (adults) and £12 (juniors). Visit bit.ly/SAI-GLO-201718 to book online or call the Saints Ticket Office on 01604 581000.
SAINTS V GLOUCESTER TEAM NEWS
Aviva Premiership Rugby, Round 13
Saturday 6 January, 2018
15 Ahsee Tuala
15 Tom Marshall
Tom Collins (foot), Alex Waller (arm), Jamie Elliott (hamstring), Rory Hutchinson (back), George North (knee), Piers Francis (concussion), Stephen Myler (ribs), and Nafi Tuitavake (calf) are unavailable for selection.