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Saints name side for Heineken Champions Cup opener against Racing 92

Matt Proctor, Api Ratuniyarawa and Nick Auterac all return to Northampton Saints’ line-up for their clash against Racing 92, with Director of Rugby Chris Boyd making three changes to his starting XV from the side that beat Bath on Saturday.

The men in Black, Green and Gold will look to kick-off the new Heineken Champions Cup campaign in style on home soil this Friday evening (kick-off: 8pm), by recording their first-ever win over the French side.

The last meeting between Saints and Racing in 2015 ended 9-9, but while Northampton have lost just two of their last 12 home games against Top 14 opposition in the Champions Cup, Boyd’s side will have to be at their very best to stem the flow of their opponents who scored more points and tries than any other side in the competition last season.

Proctor is the only change to a Northampton backline which helped to notch up six tries last time out against Bath. The New Zealand international returns from injury and lines up at centre alongside Fraser Dingwall, who continues his run in the hosts’ midfield.

That means Alex Mitchell and Dan Biggar are selected together again in the half-back berths for Saints, with George Furbank at fullback and wingers Courtnall Skosan and Tommy Freeman – who scored three tries between them last weekend – looking to provide the threat out wide.

Auterac comes into the front row at loosehead prop to join hooker Sam Matavesi and tighthead Ehren Painter, while Ratuniyarawa marks the final change to the starting line-up in the engine room, where he will partner David Ribbans.

That means that Saints’ back row of Karl Wilkins, Lewis Ludlam and Juarno Augustus remains unchanged, with the South African No.8 looking to build on scoring his first two tries in Black, Green and Gold last Saturday.

Northampton’s bench is also packed with quality, with Tom Wood returning from injury and the likes of Frank Lomani, Rory Hutchinson and Ollie Sleightholme looking to make an impact on the game from amongst the replacements.

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs RACING 92
Heineken Champions Cup, Pool A, Round 1
Friday 10 December 2021
cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 8pm

15 George Furbank
14 Tommy Freeman
13 Matt Proctor
12 Fraser Dingwall
11 Courtnall Skosan
10 Dan Biggar
9 Alex Mitchell

1 Nick Auterac
2 Sam Matavesi
3 Ehren Painter
4 David Ribbans
5 Api Ratuniyarawa
6 Karl Wilkins
7 Lewis Ludlam (c)
8 Juarno Augustus

Replacements:
16 James Fish
17 Alex Waller
18 Conor Carey
19 Alex Coles
20 Tom Wood
21 Frank Lomani
22 Rory Hutchinson
23 Ollie Sleightholme

Not considered for selection:
Callum Burns, Piers Francis, Teimana Harrison, Oisín Heffernan, Paul Hill, Courtney Lawes, Dani Long-Martinez, Taqele Naiyaravoro, and Kayde Sylvester.

Referee: Mike Adamson (SCO)
Assistant Referees: Ben Blain and Ian Kenny (SCO)
No.4: Rob Warburton (ENG)
TMO: Hollie Davidson (SCO)

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