Director of Rugby Chris Boyd has handed Northampton Saints debuts to Nick Isiekwe and Shaun Adendorff this weekend as the men in Black, Green and Gold take on London Irish.
The Kiwi coach has made ten changes in total to the side that went down to Wasps last Sunday, with one eye on the packed Gallagher Premiership schedule that awaits in the coming weeks.
Northampton have been in good form on the road, winning three of their last four away matches in all tournaments, and co-incidentally also winning on three of their last four visits to Twickenham Stoop.
Lewis Ludlam will skipper Saints for only the second time, having first led out Northampton last season, and is joined in the back row by flanker Jamie Gibson with debutant Adendorff wearing the No.8 jersey.
Loanee lock Isiekwe starts in the engine room alongside Alex Moon, meanwhile hooker Mikey Haywood returns to the front row after missing Saints’ last outing following the birth of his second child, and packs down with Francois van Wyk and Paul Hill either side of him.
Northampton’s back line is also full of changes with James Grayson taking over fly-half and kicking duties, and centres Rory Hutchinson and Matt Proctor coming into the XV.
Fullback George Furbank and scrum-half Alex Mitchell are the only two Saints to remain in the back line last weekend, with Tom Collins and former England 7s international Ryan Olowofela lining up on the wings – with the latter making his first Premiership appearance for Saints.
Boyd has put his trust in a young bench on Saturday, with Reuben Bird-Tulloch and Tui Uru also set for their first league appearances for Northampton, with new signing Tom James primed for his Club debut if he enters the action.
“We just want to right the wrongs from last Sunday and play well,” said Boyd. “We know London Irish are a big side who play the game hard.
“They are very direct and will certainly be a handful down at the Stoop, so we know we need to get it right this weekend.
“There’s not an awful lot between all the sides from third or fourth right down to the bottom of the table – in my mind there are eight or more genuine contenders for the top four now – so it’s going to be another interesting weekend and a competitive few weeks.”
LONDON IRISH vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Gallagher Premiership, Round 15
Saturday 22 August 2020
15 George Furbank
14 Ryan Olowofela
13 Matt Proctor
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Tom Collins
10 James Grayson
9 Alex Mitchell
1 Francois van Wyk
2 Mike Haywood
3 Paul Hill
4 Alex Moon
5 Nick Isiekwe
6 Jamie Gibson
7 Lewis Ludlam (c)
8 Shaun Adendorff
16 Reece Marshall
17 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi
18 Ehren Painter
19 Lewis Bean
20 Tui Uru
21 Tom James
22 Reuben Bird-Tulloch
23 Ahsee Tuala
Not available due to injury:
Alex Coles (ankle), Ollie Sleightholme (hamstring), Connor Tupai (wrist), Alex Waller (achilles), and Tom Wood (illness).
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant referees: Andrew Jackson and Mike Hudson
TMO: Rowan Kitt