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Wood to make 50th Champions Cup appearance against Racing 92

Tom Wood is set to make his 50th appearance in the Heineken Champions Cup on Sunday, as Northampton Saints name their starting XV to take on French side Racing 92 in Paris.

The men in Black, Green and Gold head to La Défense Arena for their final pool stage match needing to record the Club’s first-ever win over the Top 14 side if they hope to progress into the knockout stages of the competition.

Wood – on his 50th appearance in Europe’s premier competition – headlines an exciting back row, with Teimana Harrison skippering the side from flanker and Juarno Augustus returning to the No.8 jersey.

Lock Brandon Nanson starts his second straight match but elsewhere it is all change in the tight five, as Alex Coles joins the 28-year-old in Northampton’s engine room, and props Emmanuel Iyogun and Ehren Painter pack down either side of hooker James Fish in the front row.

Tommy Freeman makes his first start since December and is named at outside centre for the first time in his Saints career, while Rory Hutchinson – this week called into Scotland’s Six Nations squad – starts inside him in the visitors’ midfield.

Tom Collins keeps his place on the wing for Northampton but Ollie Sleightholme and fullback Ahsee Tuala are drafted into the back three, with George Furbank moving into the No.10 jersey and scrum-half Tom James earning his third start of this season.

Meanwhile on Saints’ bench, England Under-20s second row Tom Lockett could make his European debut if he enters the action, with the likes of Api Ratuniyarawa, James Grayson and Tom Litchfield also hoping to make an impact from amongst the replacements.

RACING 92 vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Heineken Champions Cup, Pool A, Round 4
Sunday 23 January 2021
Paris La Défense Arena
Kick-off: 4.15pm local time / 3.15pm UK time

15 Ahsee Tuala
14 Ollie Sleightholme
13 Tommy Freeman
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Tom Collins
10 George Furbank
9 Tom James

1 Emmanuel Iyogun
2 James Fish
3 Ehren Painter
4 Alex Coles
5 Brandon Nansen
6 Tom Wood
7 Teimana Harrison (c)
8 Juarno Augustus

Replacements:
16 Mike Haywood
17 Nick Auterac
18 Conor Carey
19 Api Ratuniyarawa
20 Tom Lockett
21 Connor Tupai
22 James Grayson
23 Tom Litchfield

Not considered for selection:
Emeka Atuanya, Dan Biggar,
Callum Burns, Fraser Dingwall, Piers Francis, Jake Garside, Oisín Heffernan, Paul Hill, Courtney Lawes, Frank Lomani, Lewis Ludlam, Sam Matavesi, Alex Mitchell, Alex Moon, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Matt Proctor, Ed Prowse, David Ribbans, Courtnall Skosan, Kayde Sylvester, Alex Waller, Karl Wilkins.

Referee: Nika Amashukeli (GEO)
Assistant referees: Jason Bessant and Tom Spurrier (WAL)
No.4: Alexis Darche (FRA)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (WAL)

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