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Premiership Rugby

Saints make two changes for Irish clash

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Spanish international Oriol Ripol takes the wing spot in place of Jon Sleightholme, while prop Robbie Morris will start in place of Chris Budgen.

The bench will be finalised after training on Friday to give Smith a chance to look at potential injury returnees No.8 Grant Seely (knee) and wing Ben Cohen (leg).

But still unavailable for selection because of ongoing injuries are influential trio, Mark Connors (shoulder), Matt Dawson (knee) and Andrew Blowers (knee).

Smith is certainly taking nothing for granted ahead of the clash, despite the fact that the Exiles are currently languishing near the foot of the Zurich Premiership table.

"I took a trip down the M4 on Sunday to watch London Irish play Newcastle and I am glad I did," said Smith.

"The match video could not do justice to the ferocity of Irish’s defence or the commitment with which they played. At the very least it reinforced to me the challenge we face on Saturday."

Northampton Saints: 15 Nick Beal, 14 Bruce Reihana, 13 Peter Jorgensen, 12 John Leslie (captain), 11 Oriol Ripol, 10 Paul Grayson, 9 Ian Vass, 8 Mark Soden, 7 Budge Pountney, 6 Rob Hunter, 5 Jon Phillips, 4 Steve Williams, 3 Robbie Morris, 2 Steve Thompson, 1 Tom Smith. Replacements (from): Dan Richmond, Chris Budgen, Matt Lord, Darren Fox, Grant Seely, Johnny Howard, James Brooks, Mark Tucker, Ben Cohen.



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