Chris Boyd makes six changes to his starting line-up this weekend as Northampton prepare to welcome Gallagher Premiership leaders Bristol Bears – with Matt Proctor, Rory Hutchinson, Nick Isiekwe, Api Ratuniyarawa, Paul Hill and Sam Matavesi all returning to Saints’ side.
The men in Black, Green and Gold return to home soil again this week as they play host to the league’s high-fliers at Franklin's Gardens on Sunday (kick-off 3pm), with Club stalwart Tom Wood notching up a significant milestone as he reaches 150 Premiership appearances for Northampton.
Saints have lost just once at home since November and last weekend's hard-fought victory over Sale Sharks sees them just two points outside the top four.
But top-of-the-table Bristol are unbeaten in the last five rounds of Premiership action and have proved tough opposition for Northampton in recent years, with the last-minute defeat to the West Country side in round three likely to still be fresh in the memory for Boyd's men.
Wing Proctor overcomes his calf injury to return to Saints' line-up for the first time this month and joins centre Hutchinson as the only changes in the Northampton backline.
Tommy Freeman switches to the left wing to complete the back three with England fullback George Furbank, while Fraser Dingwall stays on in Saints' midfield to partner Hutchinson.
James Grayson's 12 points from the tee last weekend see him retain his place within the half-back berths where he is joined once again by in-form scrum-half Tom James.
Skipper Alex Waller continues in the front row and is joined by returning Matavesi and Hill, while Ratuniyarawa joins Alex Coles in the engine room behind them.
Isiekwe returns to Saints' back row and links up there with Teimana Harrison and Wood – who shifts to fill the gap left at openside flanker with Club co-captain Lewis Ludlam ruled out through concussion.
Meanwhile amongst the replacements, Saints are set to call on the likes of Piers Francis, Harry Mallinder, Mike Haywood and Alex Moon to make an impact off the bench.
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS vs BRISTOL BEARS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 14
Sunday 21 March 2021
15 George Furbank
14 Matt Proctor
13 Fraser Dingwall
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Tommy Freeman
10 James Grayson
9 Tom James
1 Alex Waller (c)
2 Sam Matavesi
3 Paul Hill
4 Alex Coles
5 Api Ratuniyarawa
6 Nick Isiekwe
7 Tom Wood
8 Teimana Harrison
16 Mike Haywood
17 Nick Auterac
18 Ehren Painter
19 Alex Moon
20 JJ Tonks
21 Henry Taylor
22 Piers Francis
23 Harry Mallinder
Not available due to injury:
Shaun Adendorff (knee), Owen Franks (foot), Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (achilles), Courtney Lawes (pectoral), Lewis Ludlam (concussion), and Kayde Sylvester (achilles).
Dan Biggar (Wales), Alex Mitchell (England), and David Ribbans (England).
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix and Peter Allan
TMO: Claire Hodnett
Citing Officer: John Byett