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Table-topping Saints name side to face Sale Sharks

Northampton Saints director of rugby Chris Boyd has been able to call on the cavalry this weekend, with the likes of Courtney Lawes, George Furbank and Cobus Reinach all returning from injury against Sale Sharks.

The men in Black, Green and Gold travel to Manchester in round six of the Gallagher Premiership with four wins from five matches so far to their name, although they face a tough challenge on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) having won just twice at the AJ Bell Stadium in league action.

Boyd makes ten changes to the line-up that went down to Pro14 champions Leinster last weekend in Dublin, with Lawes returning from a hamstring problem that has kept him out of action since mid-November to take his place at lock.

Alex Moon also is named in the second row, while Club co-captain Alex Waller, Mikey Haywood and Ehren Painter all come into a new-look tight five.

Tom Wood and Lewis Ludlam keep their places in the Northampton pack, although the latter shifts to flanker to make room for co-captain Teimana Harrison at number eight to round off a back row packed with international experience.

World Cup winner Reinach shakes off the knee injury that kept him out of last weekend’s trip to Dublin to re-join Dan Biggar in the half-back axis, while Rory Hutchinson also returns at inside centre to link up with Matt Proctor in Saints’ midfield.

Taqele Naiyaravoro keeps his place on the wing but Tom Collins – Northampton’s top try-scorer so far this season – and Furbank return to complete an electric back three.

Meanwhile amongst the replacements the likes of Sam Matavesi, Api Ratuniyarawa, Piers Francis and Ahsee Tuala are all poised to bring some international pedigree off the bench.

SALE SHARKS vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round Six
Saturday 21 December 2019
Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 3pm

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 Mike Haywood
3 Ehren Painter
4 Alex Moon
5 Courtney Lawes
6 Tom Wood
7 Lewis Ludlam
8 Teimana Harrison (co-capt)

Replacements:
16 Sam Matavesi
17 Francois Van Wyk
18 Paul Hill
19 Api Ratuniyarawa
20 Mitch Eadie
21 Connor Tupai
22 Piers Francis
23 Ahsee Tuala

Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Anthony Woodthorpe & Wayne Falla
TMO: David Grashoff

Not available for selection:
Alex Mitchell (knee), Reece Marshall (hamstring), Reuben Bird-Tulloch (hand), Henry Taylor (thumb), Ben Franks (elbow), David Ribbans (back), James Fish (head), Jamie Gibson (ankle) and Tommy Freeman (illness).