Northampton Saints will lock horns with rivals Leicester Tigers in front of over 15,000 supporters this weekend, with director of rugby Chris Boyd making five changes to his starting XV for the 244th East Midlands Derby.
The hosts have won five of their last six meetings with Tigers in all competitions, and will be hoping another victory on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) might return them to top spot in the Gallagher Premiership standings.
Saints will have a partisan crowd behind them at Franklin’s Gardens, with the ground completely sold out for the clash, and are unbeaten in their last three league matches on home soil.
Club co-captains Alex Waller and Teimana Harrison both start the match at hooker and number eight respectively, with Harrison joined in the back row by fellow England internationals Lewis Ludlam and Tom Wood.
Mikey Haywood packs down at hooker for the fifth straight match, while World Cup winner Owen Franks starts at tighthead prop, and Courtney Lawes comes into the engine room alongside Alex Moon in the only other change to the tight five.
There are just two changes to Saints’ backline from the side that beat Benetton Rugby in Italy last time out, with George Furbank and Taqele Naiyaravoro returning to the back three to join in-form speedster Tom Collins.
That means new signing Matt Proctor starts for the second time in Northampton colours alongside Scotland’s Rory Hutchinson in the midfield, while Dan Biggar and last weekend’s man-of-the-match Cobus Reinach continue together in the half-back berths.
Amongst the replacements Jamie Gibson is poised to make another appearance against his former side, while the likes of Ahsee Tuala and Fraser Dingwall will hope to make an impact if they are introduced off the bench.
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs LEICESTER TIGERS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round Five
Saturday 30 November 2019
15 George Furbank
14 Tom Collins
13 Matt Proctor
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Taqele Naiyaravoro
10 Dan Biggar
9 Cobus Reinach
1 Alex Waller (co-capt)
2 Mikey Haywood
3 Owen Franks
4 Alex Moon
5 Courtney Lawes
6 Tom Wood
7 Lewis Ludlam
8 Teimana Harrison (co-capt)
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: Andrew Jackson & Wayne Falla
TMO: Rowan Kitt
Not available for selection:
Harry Mallinder (knee), Alex Mitchell (knee), Reece Marshall (hamstring), Reuben Bird-Tulloch (hand), Henry Taylor (thumb), Ben Franks (elbow), David Ribbans (back), James Fish (head), and Piers Francis (shoulder).