Director of Rugby Chris Boyd has named his Northampton Saints side to take on Gloucester Rugby as the Gallagher Premiership returns this weekend.
The men in Black, Green and Gold travel to Kingsholm on Saturday sat in eighth position in the standings, with Boxing Day’s victory over Worcester Warriors their last run-out following back-to-back cancelled league matches and a postponement of European competition in January.
Saints have enjoyed a competitive rivalry with the Cherry and Whites in recent years, with both sides winning four games apiece from their last eight meetings in all competitions.
Boyd makes four changes to the side which beat Warriors last month, with Piers Francis and Taqele Naiyaravoro coming into the backline, and Api Ratuniyarawa and Shaun Adendorff selected in the pack.
Club co-captain Alex Waller will lead out the side in an unchanged front row, with hooker Sam Matavesi and tighthead prop Paul Hill keeping their places in the line-up.
David Ribbans continues in the engine room with Fiji international Ratuniyarawa alongside him, while Nick Isiekwe switches to flanker and joins co-captain Lewis Ludlam and No.8 Adendorff in the back row.
No.10 Dan Biggar spearheads an exciting Northampton backline which sees Alex Mitchell selected at scrum-half, and Rory Hutchinson and Francis link-up in the midfield.
Meanwhile a back three of Naiyaravoro, Matt Proctor and George Furbank rounds off the XV, with the likes of Mikey Haywood, Francois van Wyk, Alex Moon and Fraser Dingwall hoping to make an impact off the bench.
“Gloucester are a side who perhaps have been a little unlucky in some of their games so far,” said Boyd.
“I don’t think their position on the table is a fair representation of what they offer as a side, particularly at home; they’ve got a very good forward pack, a destructive scrum, a good lineout drive, some dangerous backs and a good conversion rate inside that attacking quarter of the field.
“They will be a tough nut to crack but as a side we have to adapt to what we’re dealing with, and hopefully we can provide some entertainment for our supporters and all the people that desperately need it at the moment.”
GLOUCESTER RUGBY vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 7
Saturday 30 January 2021
15 George Furbank
14 Matt Proctor
13 Rory Hutchinson
12 Piers Francis
11 Taqele Naiyaravoro
10 Dan Biggar
9 Alex Mitchell
1 Alex Waller (co-capt)
2 Sam Matavesi
3 Paul Hill
4 David Ribbans
5 Api Ratuniyarawa
6 Nick Isiekwe
7 Lewis Ludlam (co-capt)
8 Shaun Adendorff
16 Mikey Haywood
17 Francois van Wyk
18 Ehren Painter
19 Alex Moon
20 Alex Coles
21 Tom James
22 Fraser Dingwall
23 Tommy Freeman
Not available due to injury:
Josh Gillespie (hamstring), Teimana Harrison (hand), Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (achilles), Emmanuel Iyogun (ankle), and Kayde Sylvester (achilles).
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant referees: Andrew Jackson and Mike Hudson
No.4: Ian Bibey
TMO: Craig Maxwell-Keys