Haywood to bring up 200th Saints appearance at Kingsholm
Mikey Haywood will bring up a huge landmark in Friday evening’s Premiership Rugby Cup clash against Gloucester, reaching a remarkable double century of Northampton Saints caps.
Director of rugby Chris Boyd has rung the changes once again in the competition, with just three players that started Sunday’s victory at the Ricoh Arena continuing in Saints’ starting XV.
The men in Black, Green and Gold can qualify for the knock-out stages of the Premiership Rugby Cup with a win at Kingsholm (kick-off 7.45pm on Friday, live on BT Sport), having won their opening two matches against Bristol Bears and Wasps.
Saints will look to improve on their opening-day Gallagher Premiership defeat at the hands of the Cherry & Whites, and travelling supporters can expect another enthralling contest with five of the last six matches between the sides decided by less than a score.
Boyd has opted to unleash a completely fresh pack and starts with Will Davis, Haywood and Paul Hill in the front row – with the latter making his first appearance of the season after recovering from a shoulder injury.
David Ribbans returns to Saints’ engine room alongside Alex Moon, while Tom Wood skippers the side in the back row and packs down either side of No.8 Teimana Harrison with Lewis Ludlam.
Cobus Reinach is recalled after a two-week break to start at scrum-half, and finds James Grayson – one of the standout players of this year’s competition so far – outside him, as well as centres Piers Francis and Fraser Dingwall.
And while George Furbank continues at fullback, there are two more changes on the wings with Tom Collins and Taqele Naiyaravoro getting their first starts in this competition.
A strong and experienced group of replacements sees club captain Alex Waller return, plus the likes of Alex Mitchell, Andrew Kellaway and Jamie Gibson will hope to make an impact off the bench.
Director of rugby Chris Boyd said: “Playing in the Premiership Rugby Cup for the past few weeks has given us an opportunity to blood some young guys, give guys who haven’t had much game time some more time and give the guys who’ve played a lot of games some regeneration and rest.
“That changes a little bit this week with us having three crucial Gallagher Premiership games coming up and it’ll give guys who’ve had a bit of time off a chance to get rid of the rust for next week against Wasps.”
GLOUCESTER RUGBY v NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Premiership Rugby Cup, Round Three
Friday 9 November, 2018
15 George Furbank
14 Tom Collins
13 Fraser Dingwall
12 Piers Francis
11 Taqele Naiyaravoro
10 James Grayson
9 Cobus Reinach
1 Will Davis
2 Mike Haywood
3 Paul Hill
4 David Ribbans
5 Alex Moon
6 Tom Wood (c)
7 Lewis Ludlam
8 Teimana Harrison
16 James Fish
17 Alex Waller
18 Ben Franks
19 Api Ratuniyarawa
20 Jamie Gibson
21 Alex Mitchell
22 Andrew Kellaway
23 Luther Burrell
Not available for selection:
Rory Hutchinson (knee), Ken Pisi (shoulder), Nafi Tuitavake (neck), Andy Symons (knee), Jamal Ford-Robinson (knee), Tom Emery (ankle), Harry Mallinder (knee), James Haskell (ankle), Matt Worley (concussion), James Craig (concussion), and Ehren Painter (back).