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Haskell and Pisi start as Northampton Saints prepare for Franklin’s Gardens return in Gallagher Premiership Rugby

Haskell and Pisi start as Northampton Saints prepare for Franklin’s Gardens return in Gallagher Premiership Rugby

Director of rugby Chris Boyd has made two changes to his starting XV as Northampton Saints welcome Harlequins for their first home clash of the Gallagher Premiership Rugby season on Friday evening (kick off 7.45pm, live on BT Sport).

Ken Pisi is promoted to the wing from the replacements bench, while flanker James Haskell is named in the back row after being forced to withdraw with injury from last week’s opener at Gloucester Rugby.

Saints will be hoping to build on a strong recent home record after winning three of their final five home league matches last season, and they have not been defeated at Franklin’s Gardens by Quins for almost six years.

Alex Waller will once again skipper the side from loosehead prop, with James Fish and Ben Franks alongside him in the front row.

Fit-again Haskell is the only change to the pack that started last week’s clash at Kingsholm, with Heinrich Brüssow and Teimana Harrison joining him at the base of the scrum, and David Ribbans completing the return to play protocols after an HIA last week to partner Courtney Lawes in the engine room.

Dan Biggar and Cobus Reinach remain in the half-back positions, while Piers Francis – who notched a try last week at Kingsholm – and Luther Burrell will continue to marshal Saints’ midfield.

Pisi comes into the back three, but fullback Ahsee Tuala and wing Tom Collins remain to round off the largely unchanged side.

However there are two more changes to the replacements, with Andy Symons and Harry Mallinder both impressing in Northampton Wanderers’ Premiership Rugby Shield clash on Monday evening, and earning their spots on the bench.

“The support Northampton Saints get from the public here is amazing, and it will be massively important for us on Friday night,” said Boyd.

“Nothing would make me happier than to know that during my time here, the people of Northampton come to Franklin’s Gardens and love watching Saints play because the squad are giving all they’ve got and are working hard together.

“I don’t have any doubt that when we run out of the tunnel on Friday, the boys will be wanting to play for the people. It’s a long season but you don’t want to find yourselves slipping too far behind, so we’re just focusing on the process and that will give the performance.”

Tickets for Northampton Saints v Harlequins on Friday evening, kick-off 7.45pm, are still available online from £32 adults and £14 juniors.

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS v HARLEQUINS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 2
Friday 7th September, 2018
Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 7.45pm

15 Ahsee Tuala
14 Ken Pisi
13 Luther Burrell
12 Piers Francis
11 Tom Collins
10 Dan Biggar
9 Cobus Reinach

1 Alex Waller (c)
2 James Fish
3 Ben Franks
4 David Ribbans
5 Courtney Lawes
6 James Haskell
7 Heinrich Brüssow
8 Teimana Harrison

Replacements:
16 Dylan Hartley
17 Francois van Wyk
18 Ehren Painter
19 Api Ratuniyarawa
20 Jamie Gibson
21 Alex Mitchell
22 Andy Symons
23 Harry Mallinder

Not available for selection:
Dom Barrow (hamstring), Alex Coles (knee), James Craig (concussion), Paul Hill (shoulder), Rory Hutchinson (knee), Reece Marshall (foot), Toby Trinder (foot), Tom Wood (groin), and Charlie Davies (foot).

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