Matfield named on Saints bench for Gloucester clash

Victor Matfield
Victor Matfield
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Victor Matfield is in line to make his Saints debut at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday night after being named on the bench for the game against Gloucester.

South Africa lock Matfield started training at the Gardens on Monday after completing World Cup and Barbarians commitments.

And the 38-year-old, who has won three Super Rugby titles, two Rugby Championships’ and one World Cup, will add vital experience to the Saints squad.

Saints boss Jim Mallinder has made just one change to the team which claimed a stunning 26-15 Champions Cup win at Glasgow Warriors last weekend, with Kahn Fotuali’i coming in for Lee Dickson.

The decision to leave the club captain on the bench is a continuation of Saints’ two on, two off policy, where their scrum-halves play two successive games before rotating.

Ken Pisi returns to the bench, taking the place of Jamie Elliott, but Dylan Hartley (concussion), Courtney Lawes (knee), Calum Clark (shoulder), Alex Corbisiero and James Wilson (arm) remain sidelined.

Saints will be hoping to maintain the momentum created by back-to-back Champions Cup wins this week as they look to lift themselves up from their current 10th-placed standing in the Premiership.

Meanwhile, Gloucester, who sit one place above Saints, hand a recall to England wing Jonny May, while full-back Rob Cook and scrum-half Willi Heinz also return.

Saints: Foden; Tuala, G Pisi, Burrell, North; Myler, Fotuali’i; A Waller, Haywood, Brookes; Paterson, Day; Gibson, Wood (c), Dickinson.

Replacements: Williams, E Waller, Hill, Matfield, Fisher, Dickson, Hanrahan, K Pisi.

Gloucester: Cook; Sharples, Meakes, Hook, May; Twelvetrees (c), Heinz; McAllister, Hibbard, Afoa; Savage, Thrush; Moriarty, Kvesic, Morgan.

Replacements: Dawidiuk, Thomas, Doran-Jones, Galarza, Kalamafoni, Laidlaw, Purdy, Rowan.