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Premiership Rugby

Northampton Saints Select XV to host Cats

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

The majority of the Saints Select XV will be made up of Northampton players, but they will also be inviting some former All Black and Wallaby Test players, as well as some British and Irish Lions internationals.

The Cats, under the tutelage of Springbok assistant coach Tim Lane, boast some big name players in the form of loose forwards Bob Skinstad and Joe van Niekerk, hooker James Dalton, and backs André Pretorius and Dean Hall.

Skinstad and Van Niekerk, who are battling shoulder and knee injuries respectively, will probably get some game time off the bench as they recover from their injuries.

Northampton Saints Operations Director John Steele said: "We are delighted that we have been able to secure this fixture. The quality of the players on both sides will ensure this is a big match not to be missed."

A full-house is expected for this extra game at special admission prices of £10, £12 and £15 for adults, which went on sale on Monday. Further discounts will be offered to people who have already bought tickets for the England A v France A game on Friday, February 14, 2003, and for season ticket holders, who will have until Saturday, February 1, 2003, to reserve their own seats for this one-off match.

"There has been a lot of hard work behind the scenes to bring more top class rugby to Franklin's Gardens and we are delighted to bring a Super 12 side nearly 6,000 miles across the water to Northampton," said Commercial Director Allan Robson.

The Cats game will precede the first match in the Highland Spring 'A' International Series between England A and France A, and follows last season's selection to host one of the Parker Pen Shield semi-finals, the Rugby World Women's Cup Final, and England A v Ireland A at Franklin's Gardens.

The Cats are not the only South African Super 12 franchise to tour the UK, with the Sharks and Stormers – both of whom, along with the Cats, have reached at least the semi-final stage of the Super 12 – also travelling abroad for match practice.

The Sharks will play against Harlequins on Tuesday, 4 February, before meeting the Stormers at the Stoop on Friday, 7 February. The Stormers will meet the Sale Sharks at Heywood Road, Manchester, on 4 February, before the all-South African derby.

*Tickets for Saints Select XV v the Cats can be bought from the ticket office on 01604 581000 or online at northamptonsaints.co.uk. Corporate hospitality opportunities are also available from Graham or Shobha on 01604 751543.

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