Northampton Saints under-18s will take to the hallowed turf at Franklin’s Gardens on Sunday afternoon as they take on Harlequins in their second clash of the season.
Academy coaches Mark Hopley, Will Parkin and James Craig have named their side following a narrow 34-31 reverse last weekend against Saracens, where Northampton’s youngsters caught the eye despite a defeat.
Jake Garside and Geordie Irvine, two players contracted for the Senior Academy in 2021/22, start again for Saints in a largely unchanged XV, with under-16 Ewan Baker coming into the No.10 jersey after impressing in north London.
Toby Thame starts at centre and Sam Ferrari at loosehead in the only other changes to the starting line-up, although Northampton opt from a smaller matchday squad of 24 (down from 31 last week).
“The lads made the most of a brilliant opportunity last weekend,” said Parkin. “It was fantastic to see 31 guys get the chance to put on the shirt and represent the Club.
“On top of that it was great to see them play after 14 months without a game, and for long periods of the game it looked like they had never been away.
“We talk at length about playing to space through kick, pass, run – and we did that really well at times.”Will Parkin, Academy Coach
“This Sunday is another brilliant chance to play on the main pitch and represent the Club again. Despite selecting a smaller squad, we will again encourage them to work hard and show ambition both sides of the ball.
“I’m really excited to see the lads play again and have an opportunity to build on last week – we want to see them keep on developing with every hit-out they have.”