Northampton Saints director of rugby Chris Boyd has called on his returning international stars to deliver a Gallagher Premiership Rugby victory over Newcastle Falcons this weekend.
The men in Black, Green and Gold host Dean Richards’ Newcastle side on Saturday at Franklin’s Gardens (kick-off 3pm), and Boyd makes seven changes to the starting XV following a narrow defeat at Sale Sharks last time out.
Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes, Dan Biggar, Piers Francis, and Ahsee Tuala are all available again for selection following the autumn international series, and head straight into the side alongside fit-again lock David Ribbans and flanker Jamie Gibson.
And hooker Hartley – already the most-capped player in the current squad – will celebrate a special milestone as he leads Saints out to face the bottom-of-the-table Falcons, making his 250th appearance for the Club he joined way back in 2005.
Co-captain Alex Waller and Paul Hill join Hartley in the front row, with Lawes and Ribbans – who has recovered fully from the illness which kept him out of last weekend’s trip to Sale – packing down in the engine room.
Gibson is selected to start on the blindside for the first time since early November, while Lewis Ludlam and Teimana Harrison continue to round off the forwards.
Wales No.10 Dan Biggar returns to marshal Saints’ backline, linking up with scrum-half Cobus Reinach – who maintains his record of starting every Gallagher Premiership match so far this season.
Andrew Kellaway and Taqele Naiyaravoro continue on the wings but Samoa fullback Tuala comes into the back three, while Francis heads straight into the midfield to join Fraser Dingwall after the young centre this week signed a new contract with the Club.
Saints can call on a plethora of both experience and youth from the bench, with the likes of Ben Franks, Api Ratuniyarawa, Ollie Sleightholme and Alex Mitchell all hoping to get the nod from Boyd during the clash.
Tickets are still available for Northampton Saints' home match against Newcastle Falcons this Saturday (kick-off 3pm, Franklin’s Gardens) starting from £28 for adults and a special price of just £1 for juniors. Buy now by CLICKING HERE.
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS v NEWCASTLE FALCONS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round Nine
Saturday 1st December, 2018
15 Ahsee Tuala
14 Andrew Kellaway
13 Fraser Dingwall
12 Piers Francis
11 Taqele Naiyaravoro
10 Dan Biggar
9 Cobus Reinach
1 Alex Waller (co-capt)
2 Dylan Hartley (co-capt)
3 Paul Hill
4 David Ribbans
5 Courtney Lawes
6 Jamie Gibson
7 Lewis Ludlam
8 Teimana Harrison
16 Reece Marshall
17 Francois Van Wyk
18 Ben Franks
19 Api Ratuniyarawa
20 Mitch Eadie
21 Alex Mitchell
22 Luther Burrell
23 Ollie Sleightholme
Not available for selection:
Ken Pisi (shoulder), Nafi Tuitavake (neck), Andy Symons (knee), Jamal Ford-Robinson (knee), Harry Mallinder (knee), James Haskell (ankle), Heinrich Brüssow (concussion), James Craig (concussion), Tom Emery (shoulder), Mikey Haywood (knee) and Tom Collins (eye).