Northampton Saints’ Director of Rugby Chris Boyd has named a strong starting XV to take on Worcester Warriors for this Friday’s preseason fixture at Franklin’s Gardens.
The men in Black, Green and Gold have been back in preseason training for a fortnight, and the clash against the West Midlands side will be the only hit out for Northampton before the start of the Gallagher Premiership campaign next week.
“We’re going to play four 30’s so it’s 120 minutes of rugby, and we’ve had a good dialogue with Alan Solomons at Worcester to ensure both sides get the maximum we can out of it,” said Boyd.
“There will be times when both sides will be reasonably close to full strength, and then there will be times when we’ve both got a lot of youngsters on. Everyone who is fit and available will get an opportunity to play, so it’s likely to be a mixed bag.
“I don’t think we’ll be too focussed on the score – it’s more about getting out there, getting the rust out of the system, and preparing for our first competitive matches next week.”Chris Boyd, Director of Rugby
Saints are without new Club co-captain Lewis Ludlam, Dan Biggar, George Furbank, Alex Mitchell, Sam Matavesi and David Ribbans – all of whom are away on international duty – while the likes of Courtney Lawes, Rory Hutchinson, Teimana Harrison, Harry Mallinder and Mikey Haywood are recovering from injuries.
But Friday’s clash against Warriors see Northampton welcome back skipper Alex Waller and Tom Wood from long-term injury layoffs, with Alex Coles, Nick Auterac and Connor Tupai also fit again and ready to make their returns from the bench.
Wood is named at flanker with No.8 Shaun Adendorff and England U20 international JJ Tonks rounding off the back row.
James Grayson and Henry Taylor start for Northampton in the half-back berths, while Piers Francis and Matt Proctor will link-up the midfield, and a back three of Tom Collins, Taqele Naiyaravoro and Ahsee Tuala completes the line-up.
Saints have named a 22-man bench packed full of youth, with Academy first years Ethan Grayson, Tom Litchfield and Dani Long-Martinez all set for their first action in a senior Northampton side.
All players in the matchday squad are expected to be given an opportunity to catch the eye – the game will consist of four 30-minute quarters rather than a standard 80 minutes of rugby, and will be refereed by Craig Maxwell-Keys (two quarters), George Selwood and Neil Chivers (one quarter each)..
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs WORCESTER WARRIORS
Friday 13 November, 2020
15 Ahsee Tuala
14 Taqele Naiyaravoro
13 Matt Proctor
12 Piers Francis
11 Tom Collins
10 James Grayson
9 Henry Taylor
1 Alex Waller (c)
2 James Fish
3 Paul Hill
4 Alex Moon
5 Nick Isiekwe
6 Tom Wood
7 JJ Tonks
8 Shaun Adendorff
Unavailable due to injury:
Teimana Harrison (calf), Mikey Haywood (knee), Rory Hutchinson (ankle), Courtney Lawes (ankle), Harry Mallinder (knee), Ollie Sleightholme (ankle), and Kayde Sylvester (achilles).