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Saints name side for Gallagher Premiership opener

Director of rugby Chris Boyd has named his side for Northampton Saints’ first clash of the new Gallagher Premiership season, with David Ribbans set to bring up a half century of appearances for the men in Black, Green and Gold at Saracens.

Saints rounded off the Premiership Rugby Cup pool stages with an East Midlands Derby victory over Leicester Tigers last weekend, and will be hoping to build on that performance by opening up the league campaign with a win over last year’s champions.

Prop Alex Waller will lead out Northampton at Allianz Park with Paul Hill named at tighthead and hooker James Fish completing the front row.

Ribbans keeps his place to bring up his 50th Saints appearance, with Alex Moon joining him in the engine room and England Under-20s international Alex Coles shifting to flanker – he starts alongside experienced No.8 Tom Wood and Academy openside JJ Tonks, with Club co-captain Teimana Harrison missing out through injury.

There are two changes to Saints’ backline as Tom Collins is selected on the wing with Taqele Naiyaravoro and fullback George Furbank rounding off the back three.

Scotland international centre Rory Hutchinson returns to the Northampton midfield to line-up alongside 20-year-old Fraser Dingwall, whose performance last weekend saw him named on the shortlist for the Premiership Rugby Cup’s Breakthrough Player award.

Half-backs James Grayson and Henry Taylor – playing against his former Club – are selected together for the fourth week running, meanwhile Ollie Sleightholme returns to the bench for the first time after recovering from a groin strain sustained against Wasps.

Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round One
Saturday 19 October, 2019
Allianz Park
Kick-off: 3pm

15 George Furbank
14 Tom Collins
13 Fraser Dingwall
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Taqele Naiyaravoro
10 James Grayson
9 Henry Taylor

1 Alex Waller (capt)
2 James Fish
3 Paul Hill
4 David Ribbans
5 Alex Moon
6 Alex Coles
7 JJ Tonks
8 Tom Wood

16 Michael van Vuuren
17 Francois van Wyk
18 Ehren Painter
19 Lewis Bean
20 Mitch Eadie
21 Connor Tupai
22 Andrew Symons
23 Ollie Sleightholme

Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant referees: Hamish Smales and Wayne Falla
TMO: Trevor Fisher

Not available for selection:
Harry Mallinder (knee), Dylan Hartley (knee), Alex Mitchell (knee), Reece Marshall (hamstring), Mikey Haywood (knee), Jamie Gibson (shoulder), Paddy Ryan (knee), Teimana Harrison (chest) and Heinrich Brüssow (hamstring).

International duty:
Dan Biggar (Wal), Piers Francis (Eng), Courtney Lawes (Eng), Lewis Ludlam (Eng), Api Ratuniyarawa (Fiji), Cobus Reinach (SA), and Ahsee Tuala (Sam).

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